Chip Franks– insights from an entrepreneur, homeschool dad and author. The tipping point to homeschooling his daughters, the lessons the process has taught them and the legacy he wants to leave for his children.
Chip Franks is a family man with 3 children. He is also an entrepreneur, author and home educator.
His oldest, Mandy is 17 years old and entering college this year. She started homeschooling last year and during that time completed her entire high school requirements. His middle daughter Aly is 13 years old. Aly is a self proclaimed “nerd” and his partner in crime. Chip’s youngest, the amazing Alec, is 5 years old and just started kindergarten. It was actually his first day of kindergarten the day of this interview. Alec is a beautiful soul that has Down Syndrome and has truly expanded their capacity to love.
Their family learning journey is unique to them. Chip felt that the education system was not working for his girls. They have tried public school, homeschool and private school. They do what is best for the child and family.
Mandy was a sophomore in high school and Aly was in 6th grade when they decided to homeschool. Everyday Chip drove his girls to school and everyday they cried before they had to go. Chip talked to others about homeschooling and decided to try it out. His wife who believes in the traditional education system agreed but not immediately.
There were a few circumstances that caused a tipping point for Chip to try homeschooling. Chip had butted heads with his school district because his girls had missed so much school. His oldest daughter was sick quite often. The district they live in only allows a certain amount of days missed of school and if you go over that amount students must make up that time on weekends, over lunch or during the summer. His daughter that was sick quite often would have to make up these days. She would come to school, sit in a room and stare at her phone just to clock in the hours.
He also saw that she needed more real life experience to help prepare her for her career and life. So many times students spend years in school or getting ready for exams but they never really explore the fields of interest they like. Chip felt she was getting a lot more from going out and experiencing life.
Homework was also taking up a lot of time. His daughters would come home and be up until late completing homework to get back up again early the next morning to restart the cycle.
With this tipping point he decided to try out homeschool. He asked many friends who were homeschooling or unschooling entrepreneurs how they did it. He and his wife came to an agreement. The girls would complete their school year. They would try homeschooling over the summer as a test and if it didn’t go well they could always go back.
It wasn’t an incredible success at first but it was good enough. They girls loved it and were happy to continue homeschooling. Chip’s wife is still not completely convinced but one thing that did help her to feel more certain was watching the documentary Class Dismissed together as a family.
When the girls started homeschooling Chip set up a schedule for all three of them. They went to the library and got a private room where he would work while the girls worked on school. He had to be on site at his office only once a week. In the morning the girls completed school subjects. They used programs like Khan Academy for a lot of it. Mandy wanted more in-depth material so they ordered textbooks for her. Aly wasn’t excited about Khan Academy so they tried an on-line curriculum. Unfortunately it became too restrictive and just a repetition of school but at home. Not only that, it also ended up straining Aly and Chip’s relationship because Chip felt he had to become an authoritarian in order to get Aly to get her work done.
In the afternoon they did “Daddy Projects“. They made a list of 30 big projects to get them to learn on their own and be resourceful. They kept a journal, created Evernote accounts to keep track, defined their own morning routine including reading The Miracle Morning, watched the Dead Poets Society and learned about the philosophers and poets.
Chip also had his daughters right Idea Lists (taken from James Altucher). An example of an idea list is 20 ways to make my life better without a lot of effort. Chip loved this time with the girls. He says they had fantastic insight and he loved seeing how their minds worked.
As their journey progressed they realized that what they were doing was not working for both of their girls. One was quite independent and self-driven. The other needed more guidance. Since both Chip and his wife are entrepreneurs their schedule didn’t allow them to be with her all of the time. The family came to the decision that Mandy would continue to homeschool but Aly would not. They searched their area and found a private school that best suited Aly. This year is now her second year attending an Acton Academy affiliate. Aly now thrives in school.
“We only have 18 summers with our kids.” The time we have with our kids is finite. One of things they wanted with their eldest was to spend more time with her. And now they have that.
This is what has led Chip to the book he wrote for his children–“Advice From Dad.” All the things that you should talk about but we never really seem to find the time to do.
Chip wanted to leave a gift for his children that could appreciate even when he is no longer on this earth. The book is divided into 4 main parts–Body, Mind, Heart and Soul and is filled with great examples and anecdotes to living a better life and being a better person. Just the kind of advice a dad with great life experience would give. Actually, a dad with great life experience and a lot of love for his children.
One of these examples is about business but it still reflects well to our life. He says a lot of businesses are built like a hobo shack. Many go out and build without giving a lot of thought to what the foundation is like. Not a lot of thought is given to sequential order. In our life we want to build fast. We want different “shiny” things and to try out different things. The trick is to make sure that you first have your foundation laid.
“If I had one thing to tell my kids what would it be? What could they learn? That they need to learn to love themselves.. That they should follow their bliss and do something that thrills them and they will always have a place to turn to and they will always be loved unconditionally. They will never get that in school”
Chip, I think you are doing a fantastic job. You are well on your way.
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