Is your child a good self-directed learner? Here's a litmus test.

I can't believe how many examples you send to me of parents and teachers talking about self-directed learning.

Here's the issue: It is pretty much uncontested that the best type of learning for kids is self-directed learning. The problem with self-directed learning is that the more restricted the environment, the less self-directed a child is. Self-directed learning is possible, then, on a spectrum, defined not by the child but by the child's environment.

The real reason we homeschool our black son

This is a guest post from Amiyrah Martin. She lives with her husband and three children in New Jersey. Amiyrah owns the popular web site 4 Hats and Frugal.

“Sorry for the delay, Mr. and Mrs. Martin. This will only take a few more minutes.”

Our son’s guidance counselor seems agitated but appreciative that we were on time for our meeting. My husband and I have always loathed parent-teacher conferences, so having to wait even longer to have the last one of the night immediately frazzled us.

Kids like violent fantasy and role playing. It's normal and healthy.

For hundreds of years we have been telling children violent stories. Hansel experiences starvation. Gretl watches children being burned alive. Sleeping Beauty has a step-mother who is trying to kill her. 

Homeschooling does not make you poor

This is a guest post from Sarah Faulkner. She is a homeschooling mom in Washington state. She has five kids, ages 13, 11, 9, 5, and 2. That's Sarah and her husband in the photo.

I don't think homeschooling has made me poor, but it depends on who you ask.  For some strange reason I seem to have people in my life who feel like they must tell me how to live my life.  Over and over.  You would think after 9 years of homeschooling they would realize I'm not going to listen to them.  It always makes me wonder the intelligence I am speaking to when they lecture yet again.  Seriously, do you just not know me?  Why do you not shut up?


Open floor plans crush us, both at work and at school

In the last few decades there has been a huge push to develop an open floor plan in most offices. Yet now that the research is in, we know open floor plans are terrible for the workplace.

The same can be said of the classroom. There are no cubbies, cubicles, or private areas in a classroom, which is important for a teacher who is attempting to educate and discipline up to thirty kids at a time. And there is research to show that the detriments of an open work environment are not limited to one age group—young people dislike the open environment as well.

Structural barriers to school reform we never talk about

When we talk about school reform, we never talk about the problems that are impossible to overcome. So often I hear people talking about opting out of tests, volunteering in the classroom, improving arts education—as if these things will make a significant difference.

Risky play is essential to child development

One of the jobs of a school teacher is to keep kids safe. Which means that the latest research about the importance of play is also about how kids need to take risks when they play. Education professor Peter Gray, who is now, officially, my blogger crush, lists the dangerous play that is essential for kids, which, of course, kids cannot do at school.

Review of the documentary: Class Dismissed

This is a guest post from Erin Wetzel. She is a artist who lives in Tacoma WA and homeschools her daughter. You can connect with her on instagram @ekwetzel.

Homeschooling is a counter-cultural movement. Although it is gaining momentum with each passing year, there is still a stigma associated with it. Homeschoolers are too often perceived as educational cultists, weirdos who hide from mainstream culture, oddballs who don’t engage in any meaningful way with the conversations and values of the communities around them.


Education does not mean "learn to do stuff you don't like"

My brother is getting married to a woman who is so brilliant and kind and amazing that some days I wish I were marrying her.

We went to her dissertation defense. It was something about enzymes and I don't know what else because I could understand about six words in the whole talk. But it was exciting to watch a bunch of scientists get excited about the discovery she made. Engaged people are engaging to watch.

Video games provide a genuine happiness that we find very few other ways

This is a guest post from Greg Toppo, author of the book The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter. He is USA Today's national education reporter.

Video games engage us more effectively and more productively than almost any other activity we have come up with. This is why video games make us genuinely happy.

The first question that always comes up when we talk about this research is What kind of game?