These are the principles that inspire, motivate, and guide LEAF in our activities, classes, and special events.
LEAF works to strengthen families by facilitating whole-family relationships. We respect the authority of families to decide what is best for them. We are careful to approach important topics such as religion, politics, and parenting styles in a way that is developmentally appropriate and is considerate of differing viewpoints.
LEAF helps families create self-reliant learners. We believe in lifelong learning for all family members. We are not a school for children and do not provide a comprehensive education. We are a family academy. That means we inspire families on their educational journey by exposing them to many subjects and ideas. We encourage them to deepen their studies at home. We mentor youth and adults through their phases of learning and support parents in mentoring all their children.
LEAF is a supportive, inclusive, and committed community of family educators. We unite around common principles to accomplish things we cannot do as individual families. Every member of the community contributes toward our shared goals. We believe that service to others is fundamental to leadership education and to a well-functioning community both inside and outside of LEAF.
Every family is unique and has its own religion, parenting style, way of eating, etc. Families of all beliefs are accepted and honored at LEAF. We are a multi-denominational community and our belief in God is expressed at LEAF events (e.g. prayer before a potluck, a Christmas party with a nativity). No one religion or doctrine will be taught. We start our Academy day with a prayer and our scholar classes include discussions about valor, faith, forgiveness, & providence.
LEAF promotes the leadership education mentor model rather than the modern classroom teacher model. We believe in personalized mentoring for all ages and that parents are the primary mentors of their children. LEAF is a place to mentor and to be mentored. Mentors get to know individual learners on a personal level, push them where appropriate, and help them through their struggles. As Rachel & Oliver DeMille put it, “the mentor finds out the student’s goals, interests, talents, weaknesses, strengths and purpose, and then helps [them] develop and carry out a plan designed to effectively develop [their] genius and prepare [them] for [their] unique mission.”
Learners work harder and learn much more when they are inspired versus when they are required to study specific subjects on an adult-prescribed schedule. In LEAF classes, we refrain from requiring Junior Program learners (under 12) to participate in academic activities in which they are not interested. Rather, the goal is to spark curiosity by introducing them to a variety of topics, exploring new ideas, and building friendships that will support them in their transition to scholarly learning. Scholar Phase learners are asked to engage in rigorous study, with the support and inspiration of peers and mentors.They are asked to do hard things, but parents should let their scholars choose whether or not to enroll in Scholar courses.
We seek to model virtuous character and to develop this trait in our children. We continually work to be people who have integrity, are hardworking, honest, chaste, and courageous. We aspire to be people who treat others with kindness, love, and respect. We strive for decency in word, dress, and action, and we focus on and embrace the wholesome things in life.
LEAF uses principles and standards taught in “core” books–works that encapsulate and define a moral belief system, such as scripture. Members also learn from classics in all fields of study. Classics:
- Are found in all areas of life such as music, the arts, architecture, math, medicine, and science.
- Express some artistic quality about life, truth, or beauty.
- Stand the test of time, represent the period in which they were created, and merit lasting recognition.
- Touch us to our core, have universal appeal, and connect us together.
- Integrate timeless themes that are understood throughout the world such as love, hate, death, life, and faith.
- Connect to the greatness of other classics.
and can be examined repeatedly as reliable sources of truth and consistently yield new and deeper insights.
Phases of Learning
LEAF honors the developmental phases of learning. Learners grow through these phases as natural stages of development. They include:
Core Phase: Core is the first Foundational Phase of life and learning. Learners are mentored at home by parents.
Love of Learning Phase: Children who experience a good Core Phase naturally fall in love with learning — almost everything is exciting and interesting to them! Love of Learners pursue their own interests, supported by parent mentors.
Scholar Phase: Learners begin a rigorous study of classics driven by their hunger to learn. They engage in formal classroom projects with their peers, and pursue their own interests. They do hard things with a tremendous amount of support from parents and formal mentors.