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‘Brainy Bunch’ mom has 7 kids in college by age 12, says you can too

POSTED: June 4, 2014 10:00 a.m.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — When Mona Lisa Harding sent her first daughter, Hannah, to school, homeschooling was not even a thought in her mind, but by the time Hannah was in third grade, a friend convinced Harding to give it a try.
“We saw that maybe we could do better and we totally missed (Hannah) being gone,” husband Kip Harding said. “There was a lot of homework in the evenings and we just decided to pull her out. It was a scary time at first, but we started and it was working out great and we just never looked back.”
Mona Lisa first ordered workbooks by each subject and grade level that her friend recommended.
“But that got a little tedious and a little boring,” Mona Lisa said. “We started to get away from boxed curriculum and went into just reading for pleasure and reading what the kids wanted to read.”
And out of the Harding’s homeschool experiment, their kids started to blossom, learning math, reading and science at a much faster rate than their peers. They would find a subject their child excelled in and really hone in his or her skills in that field of study.
“Hannah was whizzing through the math and saying, ‘Mom, do I really have to do the rest of this chapter? It’s so repetitive,’” Mona Lisa said. “And we’d say no just do the odd (questions) or the even ones or just skip the rest of that chapter because we know that you know that… and next thing you know, she’s ready for some advanced math.”
When Hannah was 12, the Hardings looked into having her take a junior college class. She took one, did really well, and wanted to try it again. By her third semester, she wanted to do a full load, Kip said, and they enrolled Hannah full time in college.
Mona Lisa said all the kids started following Hannah’s example. They didn’t make them do all the problems, questions and chapters but let their kids move at their own pace. Their kids’ impressive resume stands as a testament to their unconventional education methods.
Hannah, 26, is now an engineer with a master's degree and she is working on a doctorate. Rosannah, 24, got her bachelor's degree in architecture before the age 18 and was able to put her husband through school once they were married. Serennah, 22, is a Navy doctor at Walter Reed Hospital Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Heath, 17, an entrepreneur, already has his master's degree in science, and calls himself the slacker in the family because he took some time off in between his bachelor's and master's programs, he told TODAY.com.
Keith, 15, is a composer and just graduated with his bachelor's degree in music. He’s taking the summer off and will start a graduate program in the fall.
Seth, 12, is a sophomore at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, wants to get a doctorate in history and become an archaeologist and professor. Katrinnah, 10, wants to be a lawyer and is taking classes at Faulkner University, also in Montgomery.
Mariannah, 8, wants to be a surgeon. Lorennah, 5, wants to be an actress and Thunder, 3, wants to be a race car driver. The Hardings will tailor their kids’ education to what field they excel in and want to go into.
Kip and Mona Lisa say their kids are not geniuses. They just found a way to accelerate their education and make learning fun. They say it also helps to give them one-on-one time with Mona Lisa, who is working on her bachelor's degree, at home.
“One teacher has 30 students on average,” Kip said. “We can do better than that. Kids get left behind in a classroom…This is where homeschooling really takes off because those kids are getting extra attention. And who’s more loving than a mom and dad teaching them things?”
Mona Lisa has advice for parents contemplating homeschooling their kids who don't exactly fit into the current educational model.
"I personally would like to tell the moms that if moms read, they can teach their child to read," she said. "Then their kids have the ability to teach themselves. I basically teach them to love reading and the basics of math and from there, they can have a lot of their own answers... The model at home is more a tutoring model."
Still, the Hardings are not trying to bash the U.S. educational system, they said.
“Teaching is a hard job and teachers still have a place,” Kip said. “But government money comes with strings attached… We’re just relying on God and he keeps coming through and it’s working out well. Truly, we’re just average.”

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