The best thing I did was stop worrying about homeschooling. First I worried every day that I was ruining my kids’ lives. Then I decided that the first year would just be me trying things and if my kids didn’t “learn” anything (whatever that means – I don’t even know) then it’s okay. One year of me messing up won’t kill them. Then I signed them up for lots of classes that they wanted. As sort of a safety net for myself.

My kids love video games. I think they probably play their DSi’s three hours a day. Some days I keep it to one hour a day, but it’s only by mistake. I mean, it’s because we all forget to have the fight about how long can they do their DS’s.

I know what I think makes a good adult life, because I’ve been writing on that topic for ten years. I know the research up and down, and I know from all my experience coaching people as well. People need close relationships with family and they need to be engaged in some sort of work. I’m not going to provide links. Really, I’ve written 100’s of posts on this topic.

So now I am trying to figure out how to get my kids to that in a way that is fun for them. And right now, I don’t know for sure, but I for sure know that I want to be with them during the day. It’s intimate. It’s smothering, of course, but it’s intimate as well.

I am trying to figure out where I am this year. Most kids in their 20s are lost. Many panic. I think my kids will not panic because they will see me being lost, and getting unlost, and being lost again. And maybe, in the end, this is the best education for us all.

Confession: I am supposedly unschooling, but I sneak math workbooks. Not because I think the kids are craving them. I do it because my six-year-old is doing fourth grade math and if I give him workbooks for a few months, he’ll get to fifth grade. It blows me away. He’s impressive. I like telling people. I like telling people too much. It’s messed up. I wish I didn’t care.

I have a family of gifted learners, and tons of us have Asperger’s. Which means we do exceptionally well at some things, like, for example, getting into Harvard, and very poorly at other things, for example, staying out of jail. (Side note: mental illness and innovative thinking are often linked.) So I am aware that IQ is not everything. And, in fact, I fought very hard to get my older son, who has both Asperger’s and an extremely high WISC  score, to get an IEP as soon as possible by arguing that IQ is irrelevant when determining if someone qualifies for special edudcation. Read more

I am realizing that I have a specific goal for my kids. I want them to understand what it is like to work hard at something and be good at it. I want them to know how to find what they like and then figure out how to accommodate that passion in their life. This might sound simplistic to you, or too narrow, but I do a lot of life coaching for adults. And invariably, what adults who are not happy are missing in their lives is either passion, or the ability to respond adequately to that passion.

In an effort to help my kids feel good about their adult life,  I have three things I’m focusing on:

1. Early adopter mindset.
People who find new things first are people who have passion. Pew Research points out that early-adopters are nearly always well-educated, and I think what they mean by that is that each early adopter had someone helping them to learn how to live at the intersection of curious and passionate. You can be an early adopter in tech (vscreens) or travel (airbnb) or music (Akiho). You can be an early-adopter in anything, really. And that’s what I’d be happy with from my kids — anything they had passion for and they took action to be part of.

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Last week I posted about what a day in my life is like. It’s crazy. It’s not like any day anyone would want to have, if they had a choice. And I’m working on changing it. For example I took a trip to LA with the kids, so I could get some time to think.

But I was stunned by how many people told me that I wasn’t suited to be home with kids. Or how many people say that homeschooling isn’t right for everyone—as if some people just don’t have it in them to do what’s best for their kids.

Would you say that about work? Like, “Oh, you are just not a person who should be supporting herself financially.”

Have you ever taken a personality test? I love this type of test. Here’s a fast, free one:
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The state of New Jersey is considering a bill that would require a state-mandated annual medical exam for all kids who are homeschooled.

I understand why homeschoolers get upset about this. The implication is that all homeschoolers are child abusers. And this is, in fact, a problem.

Take this New York Times article by Erik Eckholm. The article is about some a priest who has sold 670,000 copies of his book, To Train Up a Child, which advocates spanking kids with a rod and other implements. And kids are dying. The article is important, for sure, because the priest’s ideas are gaining traction, and as a society, we care a lot about making sure kids are safe. The problem with the article is Eckholm’s gratuitous mentions of homeschooling. The parents who beat the kid to death “were home schooling their six children.” To me, this mention seems tantamount to the gratuitous mention that someone is Jewish. Or black. The implication that the information is relevant is damning to the whole group, whether the group is blacks, Jews, homeschoolers, whoever. Read more

This is a guest post by Lisa Nielsen. She’s in charge of technology and teacher training for the New York City public schools, and she is the author of  the book Teaching Generation Text. None of the opinions in this post reflect the views, opinions, or endorsement of her employer. 

At their most basic level video games are similar to books. Books can be anything—trashy novels, historical fiction, non-fiction, classic literature—each type with varying potential for learning. Likewise, video games offer different purposes and varying levels of usefulness when it comes to learning. Adults should focus on the type of learning they want to support in young people, and then consider if games are a good tool for that.

Here are some of the more popular types of games students use for learning today: Read more

The picture is the spot on my elementary school playground where I hid at recess, because I was craving alone time. Last month, I went back to the playground, thinking it would be heartbreaking or something. But really, the corner still felt cozy.

I am bad at making friends so I worry that I will not do enough to enable my sons to make friends. I shouldn’t worry because I know I could leave my son in a playground full of kids and he’d make a friend while I’m hiding in the corner.

But then I realized that kids don’t exchange phone numbers. And moms don’t just give out phone numbers to strangers who like how their children play together. So I started sitting with the moms, trying to charm them, but it’s a lot of work for me. I’d get the phone number but I couldn’t cope with follow-through. Being charming twice in one week is too much.

So now I don’t talk to the moms, but I try to figure out where they go. This is easier with homeschool parents because they put their path on a mailing list. I try to just show up so much that my son is familiar, and he is the charming type, so they like him, and eventually he scores a phone number. And I can still hide in a corner.

I think we all know it’s true that homeschooled kids are different. Before I was homeschooling, I used to read tons of blogs by kids when it was my job to glean trends for the younger set. And I could always tell when I landed on the blog of a homeschooled kid.

They are not distracted by stuff they don’t like. They tell you exactly what they’re doing because they are used to adults around them caring immensely about what they are doing. The kids have a lot of opinions because there is no one telling them The Only Correct Opinion.

Here’s an example: a blog where the girl is reading all the Newbery  winners. I can’t imagine doing this on the side with the amount of homework I had as a kid. And any kid in school, reading tons of books that are not assigned, is going against the grain so they would not want to communicate that with other people. Kids who go against the grain at school keep it to themselves.

I see that my kids already are a little more outspoken than their in-school peers. They are a little more comfortable with adults. They’re the kids with sand on their feet during school. And it’s been only two months. I see they are going to be weird because they are not going to be conditioned to conform. That’s what weird is–free of common conditioning.

To be honest, I’m not sure if they would choose to be weird. I am making the choice for them by homeschooling them.

The New York Times mentioned this blog yesterday and said: “Proof that homeschooling often works.” (Hooray!)

I am convinced that homeschooling is about to go mainstream. The biggest evidence to me is that I’m doing it, and the New York Times is noticing. Because I don’t want to do it. I want my kids in school so I can work all day, in peace, and make a lot of money so I can buy the stuff I want and then be a great mom after school. I was geared up for that and then looked at all the evidence and thought it was completely dishonest to ignore all the evidence and put my kid in school.

Also, mainstream media is starting to paint the picture of a school system so broken that it will not be fixed in our lifetime. But in addition to that, mainstream media is starting to ask the question when else, besides in school, can we learn?

And finally, I have argued in other posts that Generation X is the iconoclast generation, and we do not have trouble bucking the educational system and pulling their kids out of school. And, just like in the workplace, what Gen X sets in place, Gen Y puts in motion. Gen X are the risk takers and the ground-layers, and Gen Y are the ones who have the demographic force to instigate massive change.

So, as the homeschool movement goes mainstream, it will change in at least a few ways: Read more

I’m pretty sure the reason more people don’t homeschool is because it’s so, so hard. And my situation is no exception. I am the primary breadwinner, we live 90 minutes from a city, and I am much better suited for the relatively predictable world of  business than taking care of children.

I started this blog to simply explore the idea of homeschooling. But it took only a few weeks of reading and writing on the topic to see that research and analysis point overwhelmingly to the idea that homseschooling is more effective than even the “best” public schools. I do homeschooling because it’s so clearly the right thing to do. Now, I just have to get good at it.

7:00 am Chores. We are going to kill one of the goats today. It is the luckiest goat in the world. He was going to freeze to death (with all the other baby boy goats) but I took him as my own project instead. And then I told my son he could raise the goat and sell it for meat. Then we fell in love with the goat. So he lived way past when he was big enough to eat. Goats follow kids like dogs. This goat’s hooves grew so long he couldn’t walk. We had to either start grooming him or kill him. So it’s back to business with the goat. This is the last morning of feeding Snowflake, so we all go out together.

While kids do chores I send emails. Anything that I need to get done today must get done now. In this half-hour. I have a list of emails I have to write. One to a venture capitalist looking at my next business to maybe fund it. One to my perspective business partner to tell her I don’t want to be partners. One to my friend Melissa, to tell her I think I will die trying to do a new business and maintain the life I have now. I cook breakfast while I do emails. I burn stuff. Every time.

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