Age Range: commonly 12-14ish through 17-19ish, often later for boys than for girls

studyScholar Phase naturally follows for a healthy youth who has an active Core Phase and rich Love of Learning. This transformational time coincides with puberty, and the young person can now think abstractly.

This is important because during this time a healthy youth is able to comprehend fully that requirements are not reprimands, achievements are not affirmations, and acquisitions/deficits are not her.

Peer involvement that supports her best self (including educational philosophy and goals) is important during Scholar Phase.

It is well for a parent to look ahead to this time and do some concerted community-building in order to facilitate the Scholar Projects that are so ideal to meet the needs of youth in Scholar Phase.

Scholar Phase has four main Sub-Phases, as described by Aneladee Milne:

  • Practice Scholar
  • Apprentice Scholar
  • Self-Directed Scholar
  • Mentored Scholar

Practice Scholar

Practice Scholar is the Scholar Phase version of the Transition to Scholar in Love of Learning.

There is something of a chronological overlay.

During Practice Phase, we allow them to move in and out of Scholar Phase with its adult-level privileges and Love of Learning liberties.

Both have their advantages, and the Practice Scholar is managing a biological turmoil that makes it difficult to feel completely at home in either world on a consistent basis.

Your comprehension of and steadiness during this transition will allow the Practice Scholar to trust the process without undue stress and be prepared for the more rigorous commitments of Scholar Phase.

Youth participation in Practice Scholar or Transition to Scholar can depend greatly on their birth order, number of years between them and the next oldest sibling, years between them and the next younger sibling, gender, etc.

In short, a parent/mentor should be prepared to adjust expectations and approach based on a clear assessment of which side of the fence they should approach from: Transition to Scholar or Practice Scholar.

See also: Transition to Scholar

Apprentice Scholar

Apprentice Scholar is the youth who has left behind the liberties of childhood in preference of the responsibilities of being a young adult with commitments to keep, including academic ones.

The Scholar Contract and Scholar Projects are important elements of this time of focused study seasoned by peer interactions.

Self-Directed Scholar

Self-Directed Scholar is a youth who owns the responsibility for her studies as if it were a professional commitment, like an office job.

Indeed, a contract between the mentor and the scholar is one of the defining features of this Sub-Phase, and will enable the Self-Directed Scholar to enjoy the rights and responsibilities of adulthood while yet in the stable nurture of a home with (a) parent(s) to oversee the necessities of life.

It’s a simulation for responsibility in the real world.

There are three great obstacles to success in Self-Directed Scholar.

1. The youth is not really prepared by success in the preceding phases. If this is the case, go back to the beginning.

No achievement or timeline will compensate for missing the important lessons of Core and Love of Learning.

And the process of recapturing them isn’t wasted time.

Indeed, it avoids the roadblocks and dysfunction that inevitably await when the recapture is not achieved.

Don’t avoid this!!

It doesn’t take nearly as long to renegotiate lost lessons as it did to mess them up, for whatever reason–undiagnosed trauma, poor health, abuse, neglect, family crisis, unknown factors; the results of these impediments to the Core and Love of Learning Phases can be rescripted in a fraction of the time of a normal development.

Trust the Process.

For more on renegotiating lost lessons, see Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning.

2. The parent(s) do not respect/follow the Scholar Contract.

It is amazing to me the lengths to which we will go to try to get our little ones to apply themselves to their studies with adult-like commitment and zeal, and the contrasting opposition we raise to a youth acting like a scholar.

We want them to put down their book and come help with this or that, or go get some fresh air, for heaven’s sake, etc.

The Scholar Contract is literally less to obligate the student than it is to restrain the parent.

We must discipline ourselves as parents/mentors in order facilitate the Scholar Phase.

3. The youth’s hard-wired need for peer involvement short-circuits the process.


Without careful attention to the youth’s social needs, the forces of nature can be too distracting.

Even the most committed Scholar youth can find themselves having to choose between the crucial social development and the critical intellectual preparation of these years.

As parents and mentors, we must see to it that they need never choose between these.

Indeed, there is nothing that so powerfully ensures a successful Scholar Phase as appropriate peer support and inspiration.

Mentored Scholar

During the Transition to Depth, the Scholar who has had wide exposure to subjects about which he is passionate now feels the personal desire to effectively address the inevitable deficits in his skills and learning.

He is highly motivated, and readily submissive to the guidance and demands of a caring mentor as he contemplates his imminent release into “the real world”.

His new level of maturity affords him a more objective view of himself, and he suddenly sees that he is shortly to be a small fish in a very large pond; he is anxious to be taught by someone who is his superior; this is a drastic and fortuitous change.

He wants to measure up in the workplace, or in the college environment, and imagines that he is unprepared because of this or that.

In reality, he is quite well educated and has command of some important information and qualities, not the least of which are his concept of self, mission and accountability.

He is now prepared to take on the things that either casually or vehemently he neglected up until this time and that he and his mentor consider to be vital in anticipation of Depth Phase.

At some point, the student has a good, broad, quality education with some depth in a few areas of interest.

The student eventually reaches a point where he wants or needs to move out from under the wings of parents and take on the world.

The increased maturity of youth who have been engaged in a Leadership Education to this point puts them in an interesting position.

Some may be ready for the educational intensity that a mentored scholar experience such as college provides but are too young to live away from home on their own.

Finding a good  mentor, creating a special class, or enrolling in online or community courses can help during this transitional time before Depth Phase.

For more on Scholar Phase: