Archive for tools

He Will Not Do Better, So Why Bother

Joshua Sheats Goals Example

Looking for a way to get started with a real goal-setting exercise with your wife for your children’s coming educational year? Borrow ideas from Joshua Sheats’ podcast on how to set and achieve your financial goals in 2015

Most parents do not expect their children to be able to do better than they themselves did in life. They almost say it out loud and they certainly reinforce it with their attitude.

This expectation drives parents to try and lower their progeny’s youthful enthusiasm. This is when you hear such statements as “high school is the best time of your life so make it last as long as you can.” But all parents are not like that. A smaller group of parents is more hopeful that the best is yet to come and so they make plans for their children to enter into adulthood more prepared than they were. It is my guess that 80% of parents fall into the low expectations category and the other 20% of parents have serious hopes and plans that their children will do better. (By the way, I’m not bothering here to define what “better” is as that is a subject whose details I leave to you.)

Likely you are falling into that 20% of parents who have hopes about improving the lives of your descendants. Otherwise you would not be bothered to follow a blog, such as this one, on how to develop massive, life-changing talent starting early in life. But have you thought about rising into that even smaller, super-hopeful category of parents? Are you in that category?

I’m not speaking of that category of people who believe that they can get their children just achieve a little more success than they did. I’m speaking of those parents who believe they can DRAMATICALLY improve the adult outcome of their children’s lives. The size of that category of parents who believe and act on that belief of dramatic improvement is probably in the order of 2 out of 100 parents (that would represent 20% of the already 20% hopeful people). That sounds about right, doesn’t it? Imagine you are at a social mix of about 100 parents in one room. You would expect that most are just expecting their kids to do “okay” after high-school, or maybe they are not really thinking about their future at all and relieved they made it through the teenage years. You would expect that about two of ten people mingling in a corner will seem pretty upbeat talking about future possibilities for their son or daughter.  Those are part of the hopeful twenty percenters and that is good. But in the entire group of 100 people, there would also be about two parents who have unusually high expectations for their children. Those two people would seem to truly believe they can pull off the kind of upbringing for their children that would have such dramatic ramifications.

If you are ready to roll up your sleeves with your spouse to generate some great ideas for your child’s future, I recommend you listen to a recent podcast by Joshua Sheats on how to set goals. Find a way to get yourself into that 20% of 20% parents who have concrete hope and very high expectations. You can print out his list of great prompts for you to use in your goal setting session and substitute your son’s name, instead of yours, in the suggested exercises.

2015 is going to be a great year.


Use Instagram for Talent Building

BladesofBelaq Instagram Profile

Instagram profile for my son’s bladesmithing account

Do you know how to use Instagram for talent building in your child’s life? Go to the TheWiredHomeschool blog and read the article on the benefits of using Instagram. It is a social media tool that has some unique benefits that can’t be duplicated on Facebook or Twitter. The more visual your child’s talent is, the more likely he will be able to leverage his social network connections within that field of talent. I encourage you to start up multiple Instagram accounts, one for each major sub-skill  your child is developing. Each major sub-skill will typically have a different community that your child can connect with and by being very narrowly focused, your child is more likely to really connect with other talented people.

Instagram, Community, and a Relative’s Offer

talent trip

Caleb leaving for Europe, but all-the-while remaining connected to his world-wide talent community.

Instagram is a popular social media tool in our household. We also use it so that my older children can network with other people in their respective fields of talent. In fact, one of my older boys has multiple Instagram accounts,  a different account for a different type of skill he is trying to develop.

This month, my 14 year old son Caleb, is on a trip to Europe, thanks to a kind invitation from relatives to tag along. He cashed out a portion of his savings for his plane ticket and has made plans to leverage this trip as an opportunity to meet face to face several European blade-smiths in their private workshops. In addition, because of his Instagram network of friends, old and young, who are interested in knife making and in other supporting skills such as the leather working for sheaths and the woodworking for handles, he is also sharing pictures from Europe with them related to their common interest.

When I peeked at Caleb’s Instagram feed today, he was happily sharing some pictures of wood burls he had spotted that he knew would please an expert in his online network. With social media, he is actively building his community and gaining many friends along the way without having to proverbially “run away and join the circus”. His talent community is cheering him along the way and he returns the love in kind. A life filled with real talent can be a life filled with joy.

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Arrival of the DJI Phantom Drone

My 15, soon to be, 16 year old son Jonathan jr. has been very excited about the new tool he just acquired from his work savings: a DJI Phantom drone with GoPro3 camera. Why am I sharing this with you? To encourage you with an excellent example of how to be flexible in the development of talent in the life of your older child. Because, remember that if you try to fully identify your child’s talent early on, it is likely too crowded already for your son or daughter to bring significant extra value to others.

There are several skills being deliberately developed in my oldest son’s life, some of them heavily tied to our family’s business so he can develop business acumen.

One of those skills he uses in the business involves basic photography as we have had to use a good camera for taking product shots and take short videos for my wife to promote our business. From there, we gradually called on him to do more and more of the advanced product shots. By frequently working with the camera, he gradually got comfortable enough to want to do several short fun films on his own, using neighborhood friends as an experiment. It made him quickly realize that though the filming was good experience, it was not easy to get many young people to work consistently together. This prompted him to read up on professional storyboarding and to have a plan for filming each scene instead of leaving too many things to chance. He was also was becoming aware that shooting clever films was not sufficient in itself to bring value to others beyond his immediate circle of friends. His desire for wanting to fulfill some market value for others grew with it.

Next he met a distant family friend who happened to have a camera drone in his possession. This family friend showed him some of the possibilities of areal photography. This greatly piqued my son’s curiosity to the potential to film interesting video that adults would also find very attractive. He quickly became an even bigger follower on YouTube and Instagram of a new crop of videographers who were using drones for commercial shots. In addition to this, I agreed to a monthly subscription of Adobe Creative. That subscription is giving him full access to all the graphic and video editing software that he could possibly use at this stage of his talent growth. Additionally, as part of his normal homework assignment, he has to create at the end of each of his daily Western Civilization lectures, a graphic capturing the summary and intent of the lecturer’s purpose. This daily and consistent output has built up his confidence that he could handle editing the video footage from a drone. This motivated him to work work extra hard this past fall in order to save up money to buy a drone for himself. Now he has it! And he filmed his first test video for what he could do to showcase real estate that is for sale. Perhaps there is some space in that market into which he can bring value to others and he is going to explore the possibility. Day after day, he has been getting up early or going out in the evening to test the capabilities of his tool.

What I hope others will see in the recount of this example, is that they can also imitate this flexibility in order to start skills now that don’t fall within a the scope of a textbook or store-bought curriculum.

Following the principles in the guide “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent“, here are some actions my son took to get him where he currently is:

  • he used an asset that our family already had: a high end digital camera
  • he practiced simple photography skills by providing value to our home business: through product shots and talking head videos. This gave us, as parents, the emotional desire to keep seeing him spend time getting good in this area, because the home business is important to our specific household.
  • he combined his video and graphic editing into his normal school time: this reinforced his learning of otherwise dry material and it built up his ability to manipulate software editing tools for graphics and video.
  • this motivated him to follow closely over the Internet and start chatting directly with professionals using a new technology that is opening up a new, uncrowded market into which a young person has space to potentially make videos that others will pay him handsomely for.

Your Call to Action: If your son or daughter has followed an interesting talent development path of his own, using the changing environment of his assets and your family’s people connections, please email me your story so I can share it with others.



Online Writer Forum for Homeschoolers

I recommend the One Year Adventure Novel forum for homeschooled students who are serious about developing story writing skills as part of a long-term talent. The forum will do wonders for the son or daughter who no longer wants to feel alone in the serious pursuit of talent. You will not find a similar local writing club in your area composed of dedicated teenagers.

This forum is designed to young people who are writing their first novel and want a community of equally motivated peers to provide moral support and share writing techniques and tips. But in order to participate in this adult moderated forum for teenagers, you must sign-up and pay for the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum. The curriculum is designed to get your child to produce a real novel that takes advantage of their first-hand knowledge while following a strategic approach to writing, but the forum itself is more along the coffeehouse format of passionate young writers all sharing ideas with with each other.

To appreciate the magnitude of the support available for your child on this forum of almost 3,000 registered members, here are some the forum topics and statistics:

Character Development

Bring your characters to life.

  • 58 topics
  • 10,668 replies

Collective Novel

Join with other writers in producing a novel. One book by many authors.

  • 147 topics
  • 27,745 replies

Contests & Conferences

  1. NaNoWriMo

Links and information about contests and conferences open to young writers.

  • 153 topics
  • 8,767 replies

Ask the Teacher

Questions about writing you’d like to ask Mr. Schwabauer? Ask here.

  • 1,310 topics
  • 14,324 replies

The Writing Life

Thoughts on writing from Mr. S.

  • 10 topics
  • 479 replies

Story Ideas

Kick around story ideas that need shaping. Give and get help on a novel outline.

  • 1,173 topics
  • 18,404 replies

Novel Critiques

Post a chapter from your novel. Read and comment on the work of your peers.

  • 1,661 topics
  • 42,704 replies

Other Critiques – poetry

Writing something other than a novel? Get and give feedback on short stories, screenplays, poems, etc. here.

  • 1,935 topics
  • 23,389 replies

Book Discussions

Talk about books you love or hate.

  • 651 topics
  • 26,579 replies

Book Reviews

Review your favorite (or not-so-favorite) books. Check out what other people think about books they’ve read.

  • 261 topics
  • 8,017 replies

Movie Reviews

Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of various movies and how they were written. Focus on the Story.

  • 695 topics
  • 60,368 replies

OYANers’ Art Gallery

  • 474 topics
  • 37,096 replies

Knights of the Brotherhood of Narnia

  1. KotBoN Assignments

Royal Servants of the OYAN Realm

  • 7 topics
  • 851 replies

Join Online Forum for Talent

Gathering in bar or club

Have your son or daughter join an online forum related to his talent. This is how he can listen in on the experts at a young age.  (Photo credit: Boston Public Library)

Have your son or daughter join an online Internet forum that discusses your child’s talent. Look for one that is actively enforcing a code of conduct by making sure that newcomers are sticking to the topic at hand and willing to ban those who won’t participate respectfully. The best forums are probably those run by adults and professionals in their trade. It is not a bad idea for your child to already have his talent blog under way as it makes easier to get approved to participate. My son Caleb is a member of one such forum for bladesmiths and is learning daily from the interaction of older and more expert.

There are over 7,000 members on this forum from around the world dedicated to bladesmithing and to sharing and learning from one another. There is no local club that he could join as a substitute. Your child will find camaraderie and motivation and free advice by joining such a forum.

So you can appreciate the breadth and depth of a dedicated online forum, here are some of the statistics on the number of topics covered in my son’s forum:

Hot Work
This forum is to replace the old hot work and bladesmithing forum. Please post new topics here.
  • 1,160 topics
  • 10,693 replies
Bloomers and Buttons
For the growing field of smelting iron and steel. This forum is open to crucible and bloomery discussions.
  • 718 topics
  • 8,648 replies
Beginners Place
All “newbies” / beginners, please post your questions in this forum. Thanks.
  • 2,437 topics
  • 18,605 replies
Tools and Tool Making
The tools of the trade and how to make them.
  • 2,278 topics
  • 19,649 replies
Fit and Finish
Discussion, tips, tricks and questions about finishing.
  • 846 topics
  • 6,707 replies
Sheaths and Leatherwork
Because every blade needs a sheath.
  • 53 topics
  • 308 replies
Carving and Applied Arts
Discussion of techniques related to decorative arts such as carving, engraving, chasing, repousse, filing etc.
  • 82 topics
  • 724 replies
Metallurgy and other enigmas
Questions and discussions about heat treating.
  • 1,100 topics
  • 9,742 replies
Heat Treating by Alloy
A catalog of methods for proper heat treatment of blade steels arranged by particular alloy
  • 6 topics
  • 10 replies
The Way
Open discussion about it all.
  • 1,779 topics
  • 18,126 replies
Firey Beards
A Place for Smithing TomFoolery
  • 413 topics
  • 5,945 replies
Books, Videos, and other Media
Post your book/video and other media type recommendations here.
Links to interesting articles / websites.
Anything related to the craft.
  • 172 topics
  • 1,021 replies
Tools, Supplies and Materials
A place to sell and where to find materials and supplies. This forum is intend for the use of our members and is not for commercial purposes.
  • 1,301 topics
  • 6,936 replies
Events of Interest
Post your classes, hammerins, shows and events of interest.
  • 617 topics
  • 5,428 replies

Daily Routine Designer by MOTH


MOTH – the ultimate guide to desiging your own custom homeschool schedule(Photo credit: Fastin8)

In our early homeschool years, we came across the MOTH manual on how to design daily routines and schedules that restore sanity to your life without foregoing the goals you originally set out to meet. The guide helps you avoid creating daily routines that just fill up your day with no real big-purpose. It’s the grind and it’s bad and it typically afflicts new homeschoolers who are trying to out-do the classroom setting by just piling it deeper and meaner in the home. The other extreme is no daily routine at all that engenders sheer chaos when you have many small children living under the same roof. The MOTH daily routine designer is the ultimate customizing guide – it will even teach you how to schedule yourself to be unscheduled!

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Proverbs for Steps to Personal Success

Don't Spill the Beans

Saw this at my local coffee shop. It is similar to the Biblical proverb that says: “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter”

As Dad and Mom, we are currently having great discussions with the teenagers in our house on the topic of proverbs (“up a creek without a paddle”, “he who snoozes looses”, “don’t spill the beans”, etc.) How do you stay practical so that you define success in a way you can recognize it in the workplace and in the exercise of your talent? I recommend you download this free e-book entitled “Wisdom and Dominion” written by Gary North about the book of Proverbs in the Holy Bible. Download here:

Excerpts from the introduction:

“In order to persuade His covenant people to become highly motivated to discover, develop, and implement their individual talents in a program of kingdom extension, God offers a comprehensive program of self-improvement. This program is presented in the Book of Proverbs. This book is God’s handbook for self-improvement. There is none like it in the ancient world.”

“There are numerous sub-themes in those proverbs that are devoted to economics.”

“Each of these themes has several proverbs associated with it. All of these themes are important for devising and implementing a lifelong plan of personal success. Among these are:

  • The steps to personal success
  • The standards of personal success
  • Success indicators
  • Failure indicators
  • The function of riches
  • The basis of riches
  • The concept of riches
  • The concept of ownership
  • The nature of economic causation
  • The marks of a biblical economy
  • The purposes of inheritance

Read Like an Action Hero

Cover scan of a Great Comics comic book

Cover scan of a Great Comics comic book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is your son reading lots of books about his talent, but reading them with only the goal of being able to say he’s read them? This is mistake. If this is so, most of what he reads will be forgotten and unusable in the abundance of details he is acquiring over time. Instead, he must treat books in the spirit of an action hero who has a mission to accomplish (see the Book Blitz Method by Levi Heiple). Your talent driven child must learn to scan his books with an eye to interpreting key information into immediately applicable rules of action within his specific talent focus. The rest of the otherwise good information, he must learn to judiciously gloss over.

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Visualize Part of Your Child’s Future Talent


For my daughter who is heading down more of an art-related path, I inspired myself by typing the following keywords in the Google search engine for images:

watercolor children’s illustrations fairy tale -anime

What you will see are hundreds of thumbnails of illustrations that have a watercolor art style and in the process of telling a story. Though she is not at that level of ability, those images are currently very reflective of how she communicates through art. Add and remove keywords until the search results start reflecting part of an ideal productive potential for your child; in my case I removed “anime” by typing a minus sign next to it.  Note that my daughter will still need to add modern skills to her core art skill to be of market value to others.



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Cycle Up on Your Talent in 13 Weeks


A method for mastering the book knowledge of any subject in 13 weeks, via Levi at (Photo credit: henry…)

I love practical tips on how to master an aspect of one’s talent, that is if it can be implemented by your child today instead of years later in college. That’s why I like as a way to find books today related to your child’s talent interest and my son Caleb (13) is currently using it to collect his own specialized library. But this tip from Levi at takes the book approach for building up talent one step further. Check out his cyclic approach to finding and reading the most relevant books in your field in a systematic fashion, all-the-while gaining speed and traction. It’s a cyclic reading method for mastering the written knowledge of any topic in 13 weeks – all it needs now is a catchy name for the method.

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Stop Without Deleting your iPhone Apps


Stop those iPhone apps from using computer power, without having to delete them.

Do you know how to shut down your iPhone apps without deleting them? I’m embarrassed to say, I did not until My Man Tech Friday revealed the tip to me on his podcast. Check out how to do it on John blog post:  I don’t mind having all sorts of play apps with ponies and cute animals for the younger children, in part because they make great rewards that don’t cost me a dime in chore money. But the apps do tend to proliferate and overcrowd the iPhone. Those I don’t delete, I can now just shut down their use of computing power until they are actually being used.

Follow for Useful Computer Tips

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

Got a trusted Man-Friday to help you manage your kids on the Internet? Check out John’s tips, from thewiredhomeschool for Internet, iPhones, iPods, etc. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Your child must learn how to engage and dominate his field of talent with modern tools in order to speed up his talent growth – and that also means engaging with all the various tools connected to the Internet. Yes, just as your child could use the car for nefarious activities, he could use the Internet for evil. But if you are training your child’s character, you, as the parent, can and do teach your child how to use the car properly to greatly increase his opportunities for good, all-the-while driving defensively. In the same way, you can teach your child to use the Internet to greatly improve his life and his talent. This is where I recommend you follow John, from for down-to-earth practical advice on how to manage the computer devices in your home – and to keep you looking more hipster than your kids.

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