Finding harmony, making the grade at home

Timmy Kosaka plays his 47-string harp at his Auburn home. Timmy, along with his younger brother Jonny, excels in academics and music under the tutelage of their mother, Kate. - Mark Klaas/Reporter
Timmy Kosaka plays his 47-string harp at his Auburn home. Timmy, along with his younger brother Jonny, excels in academics and music under the tutelage of their mother, Kate.
— image credit: Mark Klaas/Reporter

At 12 years old, Timmy Kosaka is on the fast track.

He is quickly grasping high school algebra, speaks conversational Chinese and fluently plays classical music on his harp and piano.

Someday he hopes to become a doctor.

"I could help others, save lives and make them feel better," he said.

Timmy is a boy of many talents who excels in a carefully structured homeschool setting that he shares with his 8-year-old brother, Jonny.

Front and center is Kate Kosaka, who decided to become a stay-at-home mother and teach her children after a seven-year stint at Boeing.

Kate supports a well-rounded curriculum that includes weekly visits to the nearby YMCA and community co-ops to fulfill physical education and other class obligations.

"We can go at our own pace and explore topics further," Timmy said.

Mark Kosaka credits his wife for making it work.

"It's a concentrated effort, and she puts everything into it," said Mark, a Boeing project manager. "We are so blessed to have everything fall into place."

Kate's kids have proven to be quick studies from the confines of their Lakeland Hills home.

"More than anything, I want them to become good people," said Kate, who earned degrees in finance and music at the University of Washington before obtaining her masters in information systems at Seattle Pacific University. She was taught in private school while growing up in Thailand.

Beyond the responsibilities to her children, Kate teaches music to about 30 students.

"I want my children to have a good quality of life and a good quality education," she added. "And homeschooling allows us to have that and to be together as a family."

While homeschooling is not for everybody, certain families thrive in its very nature. The Kosakas are an example.

Timmy has attracted considerable attention and accolades for his academic and musical prowess.

The sixth-grader was the only student from Auburn to recently receive the Washington Search for Young Scholar Award by the University of Washington.

In addition, he is listed on the Who's Who Registry of Academic Excellence two years in a row as published by the American Who's Who Association, and is a member of John Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth.

As a standout musician, Timmy has scored numerous awards. In 2004, at age 7, he was the youngest recipient of the year to receive the KidsDay Salute Award from the City of Auburn in the category of volunteerism. He has devoted considerable time to playing the harp and piano at various churches and nursing homes.

To date, he has performed at more than 50 venues from Canada to the U.S. and Thailand.

Timmy recorded his first CD at age 6, donating part of the sales proceeds to Children's Hospital and to the American Red Cross to help Hurricane Katrina and tsunami victims.

Timmy also played harp and piano for various charitable causes, including the "Sing from the Heart" program at Top Foods during the holidays to raise money for the food bank. He played in benefit concerts for a Mission Trip to Mozambique.

Timmy also appeared twice as a harp soloist on a TV performing arts program called "Crescendo," produced by International Artists of Seattle and New York.

Music enhances the total learning experience for the two boys. Jonny is following in his brother's footsteps.

"It's brought a different perspective," Mark said. "It's taught them a diversity, different genres of music. ... It also gives them a sense of discipline, motivation and self-worth."

Timmy finds peace and harmony while he plays his 47-string, pedal harp.

"It has a nice sound and it's fun to learn new pieces," he said.

The boys credit mom for showing the way.

"She's a wonderful teacher," Timmy said. "She always helps us. She always encourages us."

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