A Look at the Thomas Jefferson Education and How to Apply TJEd Philosophies in Your Homeschool

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A Thomas Jefferson Education, or TJEd, is a popular educational philosophy and methodology that was developed by Oliver and Rachel DeMille. It is based upon “The Seven Keys Of Great Thinking” and “The Phases Of Learning.”

The Seven Keys of Great Teaching

The Seven Keys Of Great Teaching is what TJEd is based upon. These keys simply advise parents to do the following things:

  • Classics instead of textbooks
  • Mentors instead of teachers
  • Inspiring, not requiring
  • Structured time, not content
  • Quality, not conformity
  • Simplicity
  • You, not them

The 5 Pillars

There is also the 5 Pillar Certification Program, which is actually divided into just three levels. It is meant to help facilitate a student’s progress. They include:

  • Level 1: The introduction to the 5 Pillars includes attending seminars, submitting reports and reading and discussing classics like The Merchant Of Venice.
  • Level 2: This not only includes attending more seminars but it is also a comprehensive study of more classical books such as Pride and Prejudice, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Great Expectations, Les Misérables, The Abolition of Man and Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Level 3: The practical application period during which it is expected that the child will teach for 6 months, keep a journal while doing so and then write a project summary once done.

The Foundational Phases of Learning

The “foundational phases” in TJEd include:

  • The core (from birth to 8-years-old): Children learn about good and bad; true and false; relationships; family values, routines and responsibility; accountability; the value of work
  • Love and learning (8-years-old to 12-years-old): Reading classic literature; hands on projects; clubs

The Educational Phases of Learning

The “educational phases” in TJEd include:

  • Scholar (12-years-old to 18-years-old): Long hours of study with emphasis on cultural literacy
  • Depth (18-years-old to 24-years-old): Students go to college and find their “mission” for life

Examples of How to Implement a TJEd

While there are suggestions on how to implement this form of homeschooling, it is important to understand that you, the parent, is in charge of designing an education that is right for your child. For this reason, a lot of parents find that it is much more demanding than a textbook based education. As a parent you must:

  • Set goals for your child each month
  • Decide what curriculum each child will use each day
  • Inspire your child to want to learn
  • Create a rich learning environment
  • Open the world up for your children to explore
  • Read and discuss classical literature
  • Act as a mentor

In order to implement this method of teaching, a parent will need to:

  • Set educational goals for your family including both educational and relationship goals.
  • Create a list of classics that you want your child to read.
  • Create a rich learning environment wherein children are encouraged to make a mess, experiment, build, create and discover.
  • Spend a lot of time reading to your children a lot of different types of materials.
  • Take time to plan with each child what they want to accomplish each month.
  • Offer skills classes in areas like cooking, baking, sewing, lawn care, tools, computer hardware and software, photography, etc.
  • Find clubs for them to partake in.
  • Plan a program of study. Scholars should study two fields of knowledge for four months at a time.
  • Be a role model. Have your own work area where you read, take notes and prepare for discussion.
  • Have times of discussion as a family.

The TJEd principles are a great form of leadership education. Children who are educated in this way will learn how to spend their time wisely and think for themselves, especially whenever it comes to finding their own way through life. They will also be able to stand up for themselves more effectively.