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Ordinary Sherpa: Family Adventure Coaching and Design

Dec 22, 2021

As I sit on the platform about to jump into 2022 with a bit of hesitation and bit of unrelenting eagerness I find myself coming out of an overwhelmed and demanding November schedule only to jump into escape and retreat mode in early December. In addition to my workload, I sent my book to the editor, the kids were in the thick of all the not-fun parts of school.  We created some much needed family time the last few weekends and are scurrying to take one last adventure to round out 2021.  I will be rounding out 2021 hiking and reviewing what my editor called “red fairy dust” that fills my manuscript pages.  Yes, I am writing a book and in Phase 2 of edits and preparing to launch this work of heart out into the world which will be a new adventure for 2022: Publishing a Book.  There are 2 things you can do to help me:

1. If you would like to pre-read, give me feedback and help me launch the book into the universe you can sign up to be on my launch team.  The pre-read is a great opportunity to see the behind the scenes process of writing a book.  You’ll offer your thoughts and feedback on design, title, narrative, flow. The launch team simply helps to review and share the book.  It can be as little or as much time as you wish to invest. To sign up for the pre-read/launch team head to

  1. If reading and writing a book aren’t really exciting to you but you’d still like to support me, a great gift would be to leave a written review for the podcast.  A written review shows other podcast hosts and media (whom I’ll be making guest appearances) that listeners are finding value from the content.  For a tutorial on how to leave a written review head to

I came to the realization over the past decade that I’m different.  I don’t have the same goals as my peers.  I think differently about social problems than some of my colleagues. I didn’t put adventure on the back burner to have kids or to excel in my career.  Yet for much of my life I was advised in the same way, participated in the same classes and guided down the same linear path of learning that millions of others my age have experienced.  I didn’t have the language to articulate my thoughts or to frame my ideas into a defined pathway. If I mapped my journey it often resembles a few tangled strands of Christmas lights with only half the bulbs working.   More often I had the “I’ll figure it out” approach.  I am still curious about hundreds of things and it’s what inspired this episode.   I am very much in the thick of this exploration now.  Our children all attend public school and my husband is a public education teacher and we have been doing considerable supplementing and testing of “homeschool” education to determine how might we support a different approach to education. I hope this episode sparks your curiosity about how people learn, different approaches to learning and a mindset to learning that many might not be aware of.

Jenna is an experienced educator who has worked in a variety of schools; including public, bilingual and private schools for neurodiverse learners. Her observations in the classroom led her to question the efficacy of classroom learning environments and how we can do better. Her efforts to individualize instruction for each of her students was impossible to achieve in the confines of the system and she became numbingly aware of the impossibility of that quest.

During this time, she also began raising two children of her own, which gave her another perspective in the world of learning - facilitating and supporting her own kids in their learning pursuits. Her life experiences and research into child development and psychology opened the doors to self-directed learning, requiring her to trust and support her children’s unique approaches to learning. She hopes to inspire her children to stay curious and follow their interests wherever they may lead. Her ultimate goal is to raise two curious humans who know how to learn, all the while building a strong community who can join her along the journey. 

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Key Takeaways

  1. There is not one right way to practice education.  The right way is the one that is best for the learner and supports their interests.
  2. There are many approaches to homeschooling from replicating formal school to self-directed unschooling and an assortment in between.  Self-directed education is based on respect and autonomy.  The learner is free to weigh in on what, how, where, and design their own educational journey.  The parent is seen more as a facilitator and resource finder.  
  3. Jenna shared one way to get over the fear was to look at herself and all the things she learned because she had a desire to do so.  We all have innate desires.  What did you learn in your life that was driven by your own curiosity rather than a teacher or curriculum? 
  4. Achievement benchmarks are neither an indicator of success or failure in life.  We will learn what we need to learn, when we need to learn it.  
  5. Jenna saw the creative light get dim and her son struggled with stomach aches.  Without jumping to conclusions, how are the expectations and pressures in life leading to negative  health and well-being indicators?  
  6. An early learning from homeschool was the tone of communication and the relationship between parent and child became much richer.  She was having deeper conversations with her kids about their interest and deeper desires as opposed to nagging them to get their school work done.  Ironically even with her daughter back in school, interest led learning is still motivating her daughter to advance on her own learning journey.  
  7. If you are interested in a different approach to education, Jenna strongly recommends/requires/you must do this…spend a month for each year spent in the school system de-schooling.  A period of unlearning and giving each person the permission to do nothing and discover what they are truly interested in.  The focus during this time is to just be kids and focus on connection. 

Jenna shared 3 resources which are linked in the show notes to help dive deeper into self directed learning and share resources for connect and answer some legal questions you might have.

Whether or not homeschooling is your thing or not, I hope this episode exposes you to new opportunities and inspires you to consider different approaches to learning.   I am excited to spend much of our holiday break practicing the principles of unschooling and reconnecting as a family.  If you would like to connect with Jenna, she is an amazing resource and if she doesn’t know the answer she can likely connect to someone who does.    

To connect with or follow Jenna Reich: