Scholar Ladders

Scholar Phases or Scholar Ladder

There are four scholar phases: practice, apprentice (project), self-directed, and mentored. iFamily offers classes in practice, apprentice, and self-directed scholar phase. Mentored scholar phase typically happens at college. Each scholar class is designed to help youth gain the skills/abilities and vision to fulfill their unique personal mission.

The content each class is centered around is not nearly as important as the skills and abilities they are learning in each class. Each scholar phase builds on the scholar skills learned in the previous phases.

The backbone of our organization rests on our membership understanding the scholar phases, being able to offer mentees the elements of that phase, and parents being able to know the scholar phases well enough to figure out which phase their child is at and choose the scholar class that best fits where he/she is at on the scholar phase ladder.

Each Scholar Class incorporates five skill-based elements:

  1. Thinking
  2. Speaking
  3. Writing
  4. Computing
  5. Reading

The End Goal of Scholar Phase is to be able to:

THINK like a philosopher

READ like a lawyer

WRITE like an author

COMPUTE like a mathematician

SPEAK like an orator

*During Scholar Phase, there is a constant swinging back & forth between initiative and submission.

  1. Practice Scholar (Testing Initiative)
  • Ages 12-14 (These ages are very subjective to the developmental level of the youth.)
  • Study 3-5 hours a day
  • Students are testing initiative and competency to see if they have what it takes to succeed at the hard work of becoming a scholar. (They are practicing at becoming a scholar.)
  • Students are trying out and practicing beginning scholar skills such as thinking, reading, writing, and time management. It is totally normal for students to go back and forth between Love of Learning and Scholar phase during this phase. They are deciding what they are ready for and what they are capable of becoming.
  • Their focus begins to increase.
  • Beginning to be able to choose between good and bad and begin differentiating between shades of “gray.”
  • Understand they have a personal mission that will impact the world, but probably do not know the details.
  • Need lots of support and encouragement from parents during this phase. (Students usually need daily accountability during this time.)

What does a Practice Scholar Class Look Like?

  • Exposure to different kinds of language and documents.
  • Immersion Process
  • Opinion Papers—Focus on content and ideas rather than organization and style
  • Memorization
  • Building Community (The acting classes are foundational in building lasting friendships in our community.)
  • Positive Peer Pressure
  • Gaining Confidence—Thinking Independently
  • Culminating Activity
  • Outward Motivations to help build skills (Competitions and Rewards)
  • Requires approximately 5-15 hours a week of outside classroom commitment

2. Apprentice Scholar (Submission to a Mentor)

  • Ages 13-16 (These ages are very subjective.)
  • Study up to 8 hours a day
  • Rather than testing initiative, they are learning submission to a mentor. (This is a good time to have the students make formal agreements and commitments.)
  • Refinement of scholar skills
  • Beginning to have a clearer vision of their personal mission and are beginning to act on that mission
  • Able to see more and more shades of gray and think abstractly
  • Students usually need weekly accountability during this time.

What does an Apprentice Scholar Class look like?

  • Submission to a mentor & learning to make and keep commitments
  • Learn to wade through large amounts of information to find key ideas
  • Master time management
  • Learn to write persuasive essays, research papers, personal manifestos and legal briefs. (Get a writing mentor during this phase.)
  • Learn to ask the “right” questions
  • Learn how to take written and oral examinations
  • Learn keys of personal influence
  • Intrinsic Motivation—no external rewards for finishing the class requirements
  • Requires approximately 15-25 hours a week of outside classroom work

3. Self-Directed Scholar (Testing Initiative)

  • Ages 16-18 (Ages are subjective)
  • Minimum of 40 study hours per week
  • Are now taking personal responsibility for their own education
  • Initiative is being tested at a deeper level to see if they can direct their own studies and engage the “right” mentors.
  • Internal motivation is tested.
  • This time is needed before Mentored Scholar Phase to give the student time to test their “wings” and be free to follow their own passions before submitting to Mentored Scholar Phase.
  • Able to act on personal inspiration
  • Time to fill in the gaps and holes in their education
  • Great time to mentor and teach others
  • Students usually only need monthly mentor meetings during this phase.

What does a Self-Directed Scholar class look like?

  • Exercise personal leadership
  • Individualized Coaching
  • Explore Personal Interests

4. Mentored Scholar (Submission to a Mentor)

  • This is usually done at college
  • Time to engage a formal liberal arts mentor and gain a breadth of knowledge in many areas.

“Everyone throughout history who ha(s) obtained a Scholar Phase ha(s) something in common—The Scholarship Ladders. In other words, no one obtains a Scholar Phase without them…and with them, Scholar Phase is natural. This is how and why we created the Scholar Projects.”



Leadership Education Mentoring Institute Training Materials (

Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning by Oliver & Rachel Demille