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Fall 2017 Week 5

Spanish with Ms. Casey

Los Dias de los Muertos with Ms. Mary Beth

Travelling with Doctor Who: Great Depression with Ms. Carissa


Current Events with Ms. Elizabeth


Park Day Fun


SOTM Division B Science Olympiad Team is formed!


Field Trips

Columbia Metropolitan Airport

Hickory Hill Farm


Spring 2017 Week 12 – 13

Introduction to Philosophy

Would you help others? Who would you help? Why?


Introduction to World Religion



TEDEd Virtual Club

We have around 10 kids (not all in the photo) from all over the USA!


Field Trips Galore!

Spirit Cruise over Lake Murray: The History of Lake Murray

City Roots Farm

Fall 2016 Week 8 and 9

TEDEd Club

Younger Sibling’s Class

Lots of music with Ms. Jessica!


Sewing with Ms. Casey

Drawing and LEGOs


Field Trips


Election Day


And the winner is…

Top 10 Things I Learned about Forming a Gifted Homeschool Coop 

I started School of the Minds, a local gifted homeschool coop, about 5 years ago with a few students. We now have over 50.  We focus on extra-curricular classes and opportunities that enrich our students. We meet regularly at least once a week.


What have I learned these handful of years?

1. Membership in School of the Minds is Free; however, membership requires a high level of commitment to our community. This personal commitment has created a more vibrant organization because:

  • families actually show up regularly (no slackers here),
  • parents volunteer readily,
  • students contribute to create a lively learning environment (yes, they do their homework).

Additionally, there is a selection process to join to make sure all understand what is expected and there is a wait list should a member’s commitment wane.


2. Use Facebook to communicate with the group and set up events. It makes life so much easier. You can even use the LIVE FEED option to hold classes and post projects to share, which we used when Hurricane Matthew visited town and we could not meet.


Pokemon Club at the Library

3. Securing a place to meet at little or no cost can be difficult. Inviting people into members’ private homes is not a good idea unless the member has space (including for cars) and does not mind the extra cleaning and mess after every visit. Consequently, our favorite places are public and free:

  • local libraries,
  • local parks.



K-12 Book Club at the Park

4. Multi-Age classes only work to an extent:

  • K to 12 students together work for most field trips and art classes, but K to 12 students together in a classroom is trickier for more academic settings. For academic work, we divide our classes into 3 groups according to ABILITY, and not AGE:
    • elementary,
    • middle school, and
    • high school.



10 minutes of facilitator-led discussion before doing Art works well for this Multi-Age Class

5. For the most part, instructional classes have not been the best long-term classroom option (with exceptions) because:

  • not all the students are interested in the same topic,
  • asynchronous development/accelerated learning naturally means gifted students arrive to class with varying degrees of knowledge and focus,
  • most gifted students are independent learners and want to learn for themselves,
  • the homeschool teacher quickly burns out if he/she tries to cater to each student in the class.



Instead of learning to bake together, each student learned to bake separately at home and could choose what to bake. Then, they all came together to donate their choice of bread to our local Senior Resources Center. They learned at home, but presented their donations together.

6. Flipped Classrooms work because:

  • the gifted student can work at his/her own pace at home,
  • the student can focus more time on topics of his/her choosing,
  • on coop days, students are able to present the projects they worked on,
  • the students are motivated to lead discussions with their peers,
  • sharing and learning from peers has become an integral part of our coop culture.


7. Project Based Homeschooling is essential to how our coop runs and requires a different approach to education. We offer Pokémon Club, DIY Club, TEDEd Club, and monthly Project Fairs. Our Notable Fair contributions are shown in the YouTube Playlist above as an example. We also have Literature, How-To, Geography/History, Science Presentation Days. These clubs and fairs are not run by adults. There is much less explicit instruction from parents/facilitators, but more exploration inspired directly from the children themselves. These clubs and fairs allow the students to work at home and delve deeply into their own projects. Then, they come together to share and present what they have learned weekly and/or monthly and/or once a semester to their peers, local homeschool community, and/or even the world. These offerings allow the students to:

  • practice communicating meaningful ideas with others,
  • teach and learn from one other,
  • experience sharing and presenting their projects with their larger homeschool community and even the world. One of our students was highlighted by TEDEd Club Picks, for example!


8. Document what you do as a group on your blog or website because this will establish your presence in the community, as well as your reliability as a group. Take a look at our blog here and our YouTube channel here. We have been able to avail of many resources because of the credibility of our group through simple documentation.


9. Our Free Range Park Day is as essential to our coop as any academic event or course we offer. Some parents believe it is the most important time we share as a coop. It is where and when:

  • gifted children create, hone, and develop deep friendships,
  • they encounter various types of situations: both good and bad,
  • they learn how different families handle these situations,
  • they experience being with a set group of people regularly for years,
  • and most importantly, parents get a chance to talk with other parents. Sometimes it is the only prolonged adult conversation our homeschool parents get during the week.



We know how to have fun!

10. Gifted Families enjoy the company of a diverse group of people. School of the Minds is a small group of families who are racially, politically, religiously, philosophically, and educationally diverse. We have unschoolers and very structured homeschoolers and everything in between. Our conversations are never dull. They can push buttons at times but we respect each other and the camaraderie is exceptional. We make sure we are inclusive and welcoming of everyone.



Our Homeschool Day at the Beach.

Running a Gifted Homeschool Coop takes hard work, organization, patience, and persistence, but the community you build becomes like a second family and creating a place where gifted/asynchronous/accelerated/independent learners can interact at a meaningful level makes your time spent all the more worthwhile.


I am participating in the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum October 2016 Blog Hop: Gifted Children: Academic and Career Planning Beyond K-12. Check out the other amazing GHF bloggers!




Fall 2015 Week 14

TEDEd Club

Practicing now with a projector.










What is our DIY class all about? It’s more than just Show and Tell. It’s taking ownership of work. It’s having a conversation with peers. It’s building passions.

More stop motion.



A rescued turtle!






A survey.


DIY Pokemon cards!


Entering Minecraft through a green screen.

Field Trips

One Eared Cow for Glass Blowing


Watching a Tibetan Monk create a Sand Mandala


Fall 2015 Week 3

TEDEd Club

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Beginning Middle End


Our kids are excited to show off their DIY projects every week:

drawing, stop motion, apps they enjoy tinkering with, mods, how to listen to music for free without wifi…

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The kids are the EXPERTS in DIY. The dialogue is REAL. They LEARN from each other.20150820_131507014

This video is from Cpt Outstanding!

Field Trips

Swords, Swords, Swords


Warhol Exhibit


Summer 2015

Besides our Project Fairs this Summer, we had a few field trips and started a new club!



The South Carolina State House


It’s NOT a crescent moon on our State Flag!!!


Knead Pizza Field Trip

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NEW: Pokemon Club

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Soap Making

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Frog Dissection

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Spring 2015 Week 9

Debate is DONE.

We are gearing up for SOTM TED-ED CLUB in August.

Everyone who will participate in SOTM activities, including playdates and field trips must register!


Lots of drawing and loom creations.

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Baking coins.


Watching things around us.



Relax after a big test!

Fall 2014: Week 9



Memorize 12 animals on Chinese zodiac.


1.Exercise B: Thursday and Friday
2.Textbook Review exercise P76- P84

TBA (stay tuned)


Multiplication Trick


Card Tricks



Pioneer Challenge: Sling Shots

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Challenger Center for AstroAdventures: explored Mission Control and Space Station, piloted a flight simulator in the Aerospace Education Lab, and experienced Earth’s Wild Ride in their e-Planetarium.

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Our Notables after Noon will be on 28th October 2014. We only have a few places left!

Who We Are

Our families


As a co-op, we provide our families with educational opportunities. When we have had to outsource outside our coop community, we have been able to choose leaders and/or teachers who hold college degrees and/or are local experts in their fields of interest.  We have offered courses taught by a trained LEGO coach, an international award winning Artist, a Mandarin teacher from China, a Drama teacher with a PhD, a Science Teacher voted Best Teacher of the Year in a local school, and a Stock Portfolio Manager.  Our field trips have included classes in various organizations: museums, universities, on ships, forensic labs, restaurants, traffic court, out in nature with field experts, etc. We choose teachers who are passionate about quality instruction for our homeschool students.

Carissa (Coordinator and facilitator)


Carissa discovered her passion for homeschooling when she created her son’s first homemade educational toys. Since then, she has created curriculum for her son’s homeschool preschools and has enjoyed educating her son at home. Carissa, previously GHF’s Outreach Manager, is presently regional representative for Gifted Homeschoolers Forum in South Carolina. She enjoys the organization of School of the Minds and her Facebook Page dedicated to Homeschooling Asynchronously with Imaginational Overexcitabilites. Carissa has an Art History Degree with museum, art management and auction house training. She is also a published author and blogger.

Christopher Thornburg  (Spanish Teacher)


Christopher teaches Spanish through language led playtime. He suggests 3 sessions per week for 1/2 hour via Skype.


Megan Jensen is a music teacher, singer, and pianist. She received her Bachelors of Music Education from the University of South Carolina Aiken in 2008. She has been performing professionally and teaching private music lessons for 15 years. After graduating, Megan worked as music director at East Aiken School of the Arts, where she helped lead the initiative to become an arts-integrated magnet school, teaching students core subjects through the arts. She also directed several musicals, including School House Rock, Jr. and Annie, Jr. Megan and her family moved to Leesville, SC in the Fall of 2014. During the summer of 2015, she started a small private teaching studio. The community of Saluda welcomed her with open arms. Today, she teaches more than twenty students per week, and the studio offers voice, piano, guitar, and ukulele lessons. She enjoys helping students reach their full potential as they learn skills that help them become lifelong musicians, learners, and advocates for the arts. 

We also have a Mandarin teacher.