Have kids, send them to school, get them through their teenage years and then hopefully send them off to study further. It's the way of most of the world – but this lot is enough to make most families feel rather inadequate.
Monalisa Harding (53) and her husband, Kip (53), who live in California, taught each of their 10 children the same homeschool syllabus and managed to send each of them to university before they turned 13.
“The nature of homeschooling is so efficient, anyone can do it,” Monalisa says. “It’s just about parents dedicating the time to get it done and prioritising your children’s education above all else.”
The parents knew their homeschooling formula was effective after their first three kids, Hannah (34), Rosannah (32), and Serennah (30), completed high school by the age of 11, and the rest of their kids followed in a similar fashion.
Hannah was the first to take the entrance exams at Auburn University when she was just 12 years old.
“I didn't expect to pass,” she says. “So I started crying because I was thinking, ‘Now what?’”
But she made it and five years later, aged just 17, she bagged her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and went on to do her master's in maths and mechanical engineering. She is now a spacecraft designer.
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The couple’s sixth child, Seth (20), became California’s youngest lawyer at age 19 after completing his exams last year during the pandemic, while the most recent child to graduate from university, Mariannah (16), has applied to do her master's in horticulture next year.
The rest of the Harding bunch have gone on to become lawyers, doctors and architects.
Despite these amazing achievements, the proud parents insist their kids aren't geniuses.
“We're not a wealthy family. We had to make sacrifices so that I had the time to teach each of them individually,” Monalisa says.
“When you raise kids in an environment where homeschooling and hard work is the norm, then as they grow they'll naturally adapt to it and take it in their stride.
“They all worked and continue to work extremely hard, which is why they're breaking new ground every day – I couldn't be more proud of them.”
The long days and nights spent studying didn’t have an impact on their childhood, Monalisa adds.
“We didn’t limit their experience. They may have taken college classes, but socially, they were just teenagers.
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Kip adds, “These are not itty-bitty adults. They play with kids their own age, but they don’t wait until they're older to figure out what they love in life.”
The parents also wrote a book titled The Brainy Bunch: The Harding Family's Method to College Ready by Age 12 in 2014, which detailed their homeschooling method and tips for other parents.
As a result, Monalisa and Kip have been able to travel all over the world to tell their incredible story.
“We've had the best time travelling around and helping other families who want to homeschool their kids,” Monalisa says.
“It's really fulfilling because we put our hearts and souls into our children, and knowing people admire that and want to do the same is a really great feeling.”
- Hannah (34) – Bachelor of Science at 17
- Rosannah (32) – Bachelor of Arts in architecture at 18
- Serennah (30) – Bachelor of Arts in cell biology at 17
- Heath (26) – Bachelor of Arts in English at 15 before he achieved his master’s in computer science at 17
- Keith (23) – Bachelor of Arts in music at 15 and master’s in counselling at 17
- Seth (21) – Bachelor of Arts in political science at 16
- Katrinnah (18) – Bachelor of Arts in political science at 16
- Mariannah (19) – Bachelor of Arts in health science at 16
- Lorennah (13) – currently in her second year of university studies.
- Thunder James (11) – will shortly start his first year of university.
Sources: Today, Daily Mail, Metro, The Sun