Do you want to know if homeschooling is for you? On today’s episode, Jon and Frank Cianciulli discuss what it takes to homeschool your kids. Homeschooling has its pros and cons, but Frank was able to use homeschooling to his advantage. Frank is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO at The Wish Group. Find out how homeschooling gives him flexibility and its other benefits not just for him but for the kids also. Tune in now and discover all that you need to know about homeschooling.
“Studies show that the only bad association generally for kids is their experience at school. That's where the bullying takes place.”
01:07 - All about Frank's company, The Wish Group plus how and why Frank started homeschooling his kids
04:06 - The time when his kids started homeschooling and how they adjusted into it
05:11 - Advantages of homeschooling and how it gives Frank flexibility
08:59 - Homeschooling for kids at different age and grade level and how to incorporate vacation, summer, and school breaks
10:49 - The decision on when to get the kids back to school, like in high school, and why it’s important
12:43 - Private vs public school - where the homeschooled kids could have a better transition
14:22 - How to start if you want to try homeschooling
16:58 - The problem with the education system today and how homeschooling is more tailored to fit a kid's needs or preference
18:28 - The advantage of putting the child at school first like kindergarten before homeschooling
Connect with Frank:
Intro: Welcome to Agile Living, The Entrepreneur's Journey. A show dedicated to discovering how entrepreneurs and digital leaders are doing more with less. I'm Jon Voigt, your host and CEO of Agility. And we're on a journey across the country to learn from top digital entrepreneurs on how to live a more agile, adaptable, and fulfilling life. Thank you for joining me today. And let's dive in.
Jon Voigt: Welcome everyone. Today I'm joined by Frank Cianciulli. Frank is the chairman and CEO of the Wish Group, which owns several fast-growing successful businesses. We're having dinner a few years back with Frank. We got into a really cool discussion just before us having my first child about homeschooling and how it's giving Frank a huge amount of flexibility in his life. Frank, it's great to have you on the show.
Frank Cianciulli: Oh, it's great to be here Jon.
Jon Voigt: Perhaps you can just start by telling the audience a little bit about what you're up to these days with the Wish Group and your businesses and then we can kind of dive into you know what triggered to get you in to the whole trend of homeschooling and stuff.
Frank Cianciulli: Sure. Well. Well Wish Group has been going pretty pretty aggressively both organically and through acquisitions. I've been spending my time specifically focused on you know finding and identifying good opportunities for us to acquire businesses in the various different industries that we operate in. Which group is predominately a business to business company with investments and staffing and telecom, some tech, and digital media? So yeah there's been opportunities abound. Just a matter of making sure the fit is right. But right now, I'm enjoying that and then we've got a fabulous group of presidents operating the businesses on a day to day basis.
Jon Voigt: Right. Amazing. Awesome. So. So did you start this homeschooling before you started the businesses? Was the business first? What kind of triggered you to pick that route?
Frank Cianciulli: Yeah. No. I've been in business for a long time now. But I think this year was 17 years since we started back in 2001. But no. I mean you know I really had success in business before we even started a family. In fact, I think I had my first company right when my first daughter was born.
Jon Voigt: Right.
Frank Cianciulli: And you know one thing that drove me as an entrepreneur as perhaps many entrepreneurs besides the money was the whole concept of freedom. You know being able to travel or do what I want when I wanted. But then the challenge we face when we had kids going, hey you know even if we have all this free time and money and enjoy it, if we're kind of tied down that kind of sucks. So, but we didn't actually come up with the idea of homeschooling then it was it just kind of captured organically. It was a combination of things. We watched the movie RV. I don't know if any one of the listeners ever saw that one it's a Robin Williams film. And while they're having it doing a trip on an RV, they meet another family and they're homeschooled. And so, it gives them the freedom to basically, you know drive around the country. But right at that time we just finished building a home and we had moved and we changed schools because we're in another neighborhood. And you know they weren't really enjoying it and we said you know what, why don't we try homeschooling. And because we had bought a property in Miami, my incentive was, oh my if you know, if we do this, this gives us the freedom to be snowbirds and spend six months down in Miami. So, I was intrigued from that perspective. But you know I knew I didn't have the patience to do it but my wife, you know my wife my wife was excited about it.
Jon Voigt: Right.
Frank Cianciulli: Because the stress of you know making lunches and running out the door to make sure we got the kids on school on time which was actually a stressful exercise for us. You know we're not early risers. So, we decided to give it a try and that was five years ago. So now we're five years into it. And I mean we do have a plan to put them back into high school and college but now it's going really well.
Jon Voigt: And so, how long do they go to school before you swap them over and how is the adjustment for them?
Frank Cianciulli: The adjustment was really smooth for them. They really liked that. They started I think, ah I guess Sophia my daughter started in grade 3 and Anthony started in Grade 1. Now they're in grade 7 and 5. And I guess the plan is two more years and then we'll integrate them into high school in junior high. But we're not sure you know we might keep going a little bit longer but we you know we do want to give them a high school experience. But yeah. They've been doing that I guess since their fifth year and you know it just really works for our family. It's not for everyone but I mean most of the people that have started homeschooling and I think that's what helped, you know entice us to give it a try. You know anything in life when you do a bit of research you find the good and the bad.
Jon Voigt: Yeah.
Frank Cianciulli: It was unbelievable how overwhelming all the experiences and feedback we got from talking to people on this page, sites and stuff, it was overwhelmingly positive. If it suits you, you got to be one to do it right? Not everybody can actually go or have the ability to actually stay home and homeschool, but assuming you're able to do it and you have the temperament for it, it is you know, it definitely has advantages.
Jon Voigt: Yes. I've heard though correct me if I'm wrong or maybe it's just depending on the situation but, you know when they go to school, they're there all day but when they are homeschooled, they can actually get through the material almost twice as fast. Because you're being so focused on, in terms of your type of style of learning and that attentions on you versus a whole classroom.
Frank Cianciulli: Exactly. And just from my experience I went to the public school all the way up until grade eleven. Then I switched over to a private school that it was more of a small classroom type. You know it was like eight students in the class so it almost felt like you had your own personal tutor. And it just suited my you know, from me what worked for me as far as learning. I mean courses or subjects that you know I would be getting C's or B's all of a sudden, I was an A student. So, you can definitely customize the learning experience. You know and the only real you know everyone, whenever I tell anybody that I'm homeschooling the only real objection or someone has all is how about socialization.
Jon Voigt: Yes.
Frank Cianciulli: And it's actually quite odd because to be honest you know studies show that the only bad association generally for kids is their experience at school. That's where the bullying takes place. It's not gonna be in their dance class necessarily or their sports teams or they're usually their team on your pick and you're working with. And all the friends that they have when they go to school, they still play with them after school and on weekends. It's like it's like if they went to this you know I don't know to school different than most of their neighbors and teammates and then when they get home they play with those same kids. I mean really the only engagement you're getting is on breaks and lunch and recesses. So, and they're getting so much other perspective, I mean they're spending more time with adults and you can pick and choose your social or social activities or stop playing other sports and dance and arts and all that kind of stuff.
Jon Voigt: So, you know talking about bringing flexibility to your life and that's what got you excited. About you being a snowbird and all these things. Now they're at home all the time. Right? So, they're there. So, it's not like you take them off to school and you're sitting there and you're like, ah there's nobody home I can relax today or something like, did it actually bring flexibility? Was there an adjustment? You know is the house always a chaotic place, you know, how does that kind of end up.
Frank Cianciulli: Ah, no. It actually works out really well for us. I mean again there was another perk for me anyway. You know I mean. Most entrepreneurs spend a lot of time you know in their business. So, you know I hear a lot of regrets. You know from entrepreneurs later stage in their life just wishing they spent more time with their kids. So that was another draw for me saying, well you know I can spend more time with my children. Even if it's you know about one hour having a proper breakfast and taking my time before I move on to a meeting or where have you, as opposed to the rush to school, drop them off and then rush to pick them up and you know because then you're rushing off to take a hockey or whatever. So, everything just slows down to a nice pace. You know everyone has their own space so you know they have their lessons and then you know I'm in my office. If I'm in Florida I'm in my home office. If I'm in Toronto I'm going to work. And my wife has you know she does her things and so they'll do their lesson and then everyone kind of splits up and does her homework. Or you know we kind of had try and schedule physical breaks because we don't have the recesses. We do have a lunch but you know we do try and say, OK you know go out and go and get on the pool for a bit or go for a run or you know take a break for lunch that sort of thing. So, you try and follow the school day. It's just compressed because like you said you're not wasting as much time.
Jon Voigt: Right. Right. And so how do you do it with two kids that are kind of at different grade levels and things like that How does that work Because normally you're in a class with other children your age or maturity and all those things.
Frank Cianciulli: Yeah, I mean we're I mean yeah, our kids are two grades apart. I think it's 18 months apart. So, I mean they've obviously through that experience they've gotten very close. But yeah, I mean they have different interests. You know one is boy and one is a girl. So yeah, they end up spending a little more time on their own. You know it with nowadays with a bit of humor and all that kind of stuff it's amazing how many, some how many people are online even the middle of the day. But again, that's another drawback. But I think overall, in time this can really just bring them closer together. That experience that they're having is pretty cool. But yeah you know I mean, you know I think they both probably enjoyed hanging out with their friends during the day as well.
Jon Voigt: Yeah.
Frank Cianciulli: But again, that's one of the drawbacks.
Jon Voigt: Right. Right. And when you go down south and things like this or when you go on vacation, are you able to really separate from it or is it part of the routine so much that you kind of bring it with you?
Frank Cianciulli: No. We do, we try it you know like we're trying to emulate the vacation. So, in the summer break we tend to not do any school. And in March break almost all those types of things along weekends just a bit of reading like any other person would. You know and the other thing I want to mention is that a lot of these homes a lot of that a lot of cities and towns they'll have networks through Facebook or different ways where you could you could actually you know go and they will have you know play days and they'll be out every day. There'll be a group of people that you can connect into we haven't utilized that as much but it's there for you. So, you know, let's say you want them to hang out with someone their age and you know there's someone they can become friends with. That's available everywhere even in Florida. We found it as well as in Toronto.
Jon Voigt: And that's other kids that are going through homeschooling as well?
Frank Cianciulli: Yes.
Jon Voigt: Yeah right. That's cool, that's cool. And so how come. What's the decision to move them back you know, in high school or you know pre-high school or whatnot?
Frank Cianciulli: Yeah. Well I mean I think it's also just because you know, like when we get through grade school you can get through those basic subjects. You know get the Math, English, and Science and all that kind of stuff. But you know once you get into high school, you're pretty neat. So, like my daughter is an artist, even my son actually and he's into sports so you know once again I think that by high school you want to start narrowing down the focus and in particular type of arts or sports and you know that high school pre-University, I think it might be a bit of a shock to go right to university. So definitely gonna put them into high school. Well will we put them in all the way through? Not sure I think that's still up for debate.
Jon Voigt: Yeah.
Frank Cianciulli: But some of the schools that we've kind of checked out you know they're pretty impressive as far as the programs that they offer. You know my high school experience was very positive so I'd like to I'd like for them to get into that for sure.
Jon Voigt: Yeah right. Yeah, I think you know high school is such a transition year in terms of maturing and interaction with people on that social side and I hear you when you said and talk to about bullying stuff in the younger ages especially because they don't really understand it. Or why it's there but it's happening and in high school they're a little more grounded to handle that type of stuff.
Frank Cianciulli: Yeah. And when you're going into high school, you're going through change anyway. I mean I know a lot of times people you know they'll go to a high school and then they'll know a lot of people from their grade school. But basically, there's usually a converging a bunch of different grade school, so everyone's going through change anyway. So, it's kind of a good time to supplement.
Jon Voigt: Right for sure. And do you consider like a private school or a public school or is there any difference that you think would transition better from homeschooling? Or doesn't really matter as long as the school's been kind of vetted or you know has a good transition.
Frank Cianciulli: Yeah in our case we're thinking private school for that. Same reason, yeah, I do think that the transition that you know in the meetings we've had with them you know they've had people from you know homeschooling so integrating them in.
Jon Voigt: Yeah.
Frank Cianciulli: I think you have in a private environment, you have less cliques already formed. Unless it's a school where there's also a you know they have also had great school but. And you know and they're focused so you can get an art school or a school that's more focused on sports and athletics. So private is probably going to suit us better.
Jon Voigt: Right. For sure. And so how is this going to change the flexibility of your life. You know you've had down south for the winter all these years. Are you gonna put them in school in those areas? How are you going to handle that sort things or is it a boarding school?
Frank Cianciulli: No that's a big decision. You know we've thought about it. We don't think we can give up the life down in Florida. But beyond the heat we just really like the lifestyle here. We really really love Toronto. Kind of for me to forward though in Labor Day or Thanksgiving. So yeah. So, we're yeah, we're exploring down here so down in Florida. So, they would go to school here and you know that's a big decision because you know odds are then they're you know they're gonna make some really strong relationships down here they might not want to go back.
Jon Voigt: Right. Interesting. Yeah yeah.
Frank Cianciulli: So, it's a, you know it's a big, it's a big decision and we've got a bit more time before we can we can make a call. But yeah, I think we're leaning towards Florida.
Jon Voigt: Yeah and you could board for a month or two here or there and some schools as walks. I know I went to private school for a couple of years and one of those years I stayed at the school. So, I guess there's those options as well but that does really separate the family a lot.
Frank Cianciulli: Yeah. Yeah you know especially since we spent so much time together it might be, I mean It'll be refreshing at best. It's cool. We can have some free time but yeah, it's going to be an adjustment for all of us. I think. I think we'll miss it as well.
Jon Voigt: Right. All right. So, you know if somebody was to start going and when you started getting into this you know, was it just a ton of research and a ton of interviewing of people? You know how did you get the information about you know where you get the course information? How you did this? Like where would someone start?
Frank Cianciulli: Yeah all of that's very helpful. I mean I think that's another reason that kind of made us feel comfortable of giving it a try was that we'll just want accessible, I mean there're things online of course. But I don't remember the name of it was, but there's an actual annual trade show and you know where all the suppliers and they do have guest speakers and it's really really well done. And you know from the people who actually do the course books and sell you the course books. How helpful they are in helping you identify what you know what course works best for your child.
Jon Voigt: Are they different than normal school courses.
Frank Cianciulli: Well there's a couple of different programs. Yeah. So, you can try to fit in what's the best fit for you. What you want to focus on. The online versions, that's sort of stuff. And there all have great form groups in social media so and everyone's so willing to, you know to help out. So, you know, if you see someone exploring and they ask you a question, you know the odds are you're willing to really help them. Because you know it's a big decision. You know the anxiety they're going through while they're considering it.
Jon Voigt: For sure.
Frank Cianciulli: So, the community was really impressed us. You know and in the United States specifically you do have more faith-based. I mean you do have a lot of people, even in Canada because maybe they're not they're not fond of the you know some of the changes in the way the faith works and that wasn't hard. That wasn't our focus or in the United States, you've got a lot of people worried about safety believe it or not. I mean an issue in Canada but down here you know there's a lot of shoot school shootings and then people are driven by that as well.
Jon Voigt: Yeah for sure.
Frank Cianciulli: Yeah that wasn't our concern, but one of the one of the other benefits is just and you had mentioned at the top is that they can get through so much more material. So, it's amazing how advanced they become. Some people won't be concerned, well you know I was sure they're getting the right learning. Oh my God. You know they're blowing by and we're not you know we're not in a mad rush. We're not, you know our objective is not to make sure there are three or four grades ahead or anything but.
Jon Voigt: Right. But there's the option for that, I guess. Right? You could pick your own pace.
Frank Cianciulli: You can.
Jon Voigt: Yeah. Interesting. So that's pretty cool.
Frank Cianciulli: And just naturally focus on the subjects that they lean towards.
Jon Voigt: Right, right.
Frank Cianciulli: Or they really prefer as opposed to you know in the school it is what it is. The curriculum here you can kind of, you can customize it to what suits you best.
Jon Voigt: Yeah, I know I was in a conversation with somebody not that long ago just around how I don't think there's anything wrong specifically with what's being taught today. It's the fact that of how it's taught for individuals. I think every individual learns a different way. And you know one teacher may be a certain style that's awesome for this one child and then goes to another grade and then the teachers a completely different style of teaching. So, I think all these styles are useful if they line up with the child or the person learning. And so, I think the future of education is much more tailored specific education to that person. But how do you scale that? How do you do that? That's why the education system has so many problems right now.
Frank Cianciulli: I can't agree more with that. And you know most people you know, can think of at least one or two or at most a handful of teachers that you know they can say all that teacher was really fabulous and really connected with me and the impact on the life, in your life is very positive. Maybe you can say the same thing about managers to want to start working with people at the same level.
Jon Voigt: 100 percent. Yeah.
Frank Cianciulli: But usually it's that. Right? There's a connection there. Your personalities just click and you know so you have a better chance of duplicating that in this environment, I think.
Jon Voigt: Right. Right. So, if you were to go back, is there anything you change would you put them in earlier or would you put them in later. Would you pick different things like what some kind of tips and tricks if somebody was going to go through the process to look out for or to kind of handle?
Frank Cianciulli: Yeah, I actually liked that they went to school for a few years and then went through the kitchen gardens and my son went to JK (Junior Kindergarten) one my daughter is JK 2. You know I like that they got that experience at that early age or hate it but mostly the kindergartens are fun. A lot of playing. And they built some relationships based on that.
Jon Voigt: Right. All right.
Frank Cianciulli: They're still friends with a lot of the kids that they met back in school. At least they have a comparison I think would be kind of. I'm not sure I would be if they were you know the kid went right to homeschooling. So that's where I kind of worry a little bit about socialization although I don't have any data to back that up or science. But no, I well I wouldn't change that. Yeah, I think maybe you know we didn't, we didn't take advantage of the local other local parents that were homeschooling.
Jon Voigt: Right.
Frank Cianciulli: So, I think that might have been something we should have tapped into right away. You know we're doing it now so.
Jon Voigt: Right. And did you take summers off and things like that or did they just go right through.
Frank Cianciulli: Yeah. No. You know we try and we try and take the time off and get the break. You know they might do some light reading and stuff but we don't follow curriculum in the summer.
Jon Voigt: Right. Ok. Cool. This is awesome stuff. You know I know that we got into a deep discussion on it because I was very interested in it. We're often on the move and I have mixed feelings about different education things because I went to public school and private school and had pros and cons of each and all these things. So, I know when you told me you were homeschooling at that dinner, I couldn't stop asking you guys questions about it. So, I'm sure there's other people thinking about it too so it's kind of cool to kind of dive in from your experiences.
Frank Cianciulli: Yes. And I definitely get a lot of interest from entrepreneurs. So, I think there's something about it that really suits the entrepreneur lifestyle especially us.
Jon Voigt: Right. Well especially people who live in lot of areas all the time.
Frank Cianciulli: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah.
Jon Voigt: Awesome. If you want to learn more, ask more questions about this or learn more about the Wish Group. How could they reach you?
Frank Cianciulli: Well simply just go to wishgroup.ca or just e-mail me directly at email@example.com and I'd be happy to answer any questions.
Jon Voigt: Awesome. Well thanks Frank, I really appreciate it. It's great to catch up and look forward to hopefully seeing you soon. I'm not sure if I will if you're down in Florida but I do come down there every once in a while, so hopefully we’ll connect.
Frank Cianciulli: And I'll come to Vancouver. So, we'll see you soon.