Mothers who homeschool (let’s be honest, it’s almost always the moms) spend a lot more time with their kids than mothers who send their kids to school. I am trying to figure out if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Certainly it could go both ways. (And certainly there are exceptions—like the mom who homeschools but is outsourcing it all, which I’m pretty sure Ree Drummond is doing, for example.)

I spend a lot of time coaching people in their 20s about their careers. Invariably these people are lost. That’s simply what life is like in one’s 20s.  And invariably parents are expecting more of the kids and the kids feel bad that they can’t live up to their parents’ expectations. I end up telling a lot of people they have to stop looking to their parents for guidance in a workforce that they’ve never had to navigate.  Read more

After doing a lot of investigating about video games and their effect on kids, I realized that limiting kids playing video games has a much more deleterious impact on kids than letting them play video games unfettered by parent oversight. Here’s why:

1. Game time is about respect.
When you tell kids they can’t do what they like, you tell them they have poor judgment. The whole point of child-directed learning is to tell kids that they have a good sense of what is interesting to them and they should respect that in themselves.

I noticed that when people ask me why we don’t teach subjects in our homeschooling, I’d say, “I trust my kids to figure out what they want to learn, and I’ll help them learn it. Passion isn’t divided into school subjects.”

Then invariably one of my kids would yell out, “So why can’t we play video games?!?!?!?”

And the adult would laugh, but I would think, “Yeah. It’s a good question.” Read more

Most of the time that I’m writing on this blog, I’m relaying to you the daily process I go through of reaffirming in my mind that there is no way I could send my kids to school. Because believe me, if I could somehow justify it in my head, I’d do it in a second.

Last week we hung out in Florida with people who have a lot of money. I did a lot of watching, and (when the weather warmed up enough to take off our winter coats,) I found myself on a deck chair next to a talkative mom, and I chatted.

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Last week I took the kids to Florida. My cousin had a wedding in Boca Raton, so we went for the wedding and stayed for a week.

We stayed at the Boca Beach Club, in Boca Raton, FL. It’s owned by Waldorf Astoria, and it was just totally over the top in terms of luxury hotels. It had all the usual stuff—like mints on our pillow at bedtime, an extravagant buffet at breakfast, and a mini-bar full of five-dollar Cokes. But it also had a clientele of people who live in gated communities and use the Waldorf as their country club.

The women had super-tight tummies, huge diamond rings, and perfectly coiffed kids, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how they were the prom queens who married the real estate moguls and insurance tycoons and now they are the in-club of adult life.

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I love this post by Aaron Smith about why homeschool parents are entrepreneurial. It’s a great way to look at homeschooling because in the 90’s when I launched my first startup, most people thought I was a hopeless loser and unemployed. Now we celebrate business entrepreneurship, but it makes sense to me that parent entrepreneurship is the next frontier, and, of course, people think it’s hopelessly misguided and the kids are not learning.

So that analysis by itself makes Smith’s post worth a read. But he also talks about socialization in a really interesting way.

For example, Smith points out that 2.7 million kids are on medication for attention disorders, and this is largely the result of school needing to socialize kids (boys, mostly) who do not fit into the mold of what kids should be doing all day (to prepare for factory work, mostly, but that’s another story).

Also, Smith links to data about how homeschooled kids are more likely to vote and participate in community service. Which seem like fine indicators of whether someone is attached to society at large.

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Skateboarding used to be a counter-culture sport. In fact, towns across America ban skateboarders because they ruin public property, but also because who wants crowds of young boys at high speeds in an area where people are supposed to feel secure and happy and spending their money?

Bur today there are skateboarding overnight camps in middle America touting good old values like hard work and safe play.

The X Games have brought respectability to sports that are solo, not structured, and not sanctioned by schools. And as Generation X has gained control of city governments, skate parks have popped up in cities all over the US. As Gen X started controlling the spending for ski resorts, snowboarding became a standard offering, and some sports, like doubles-beach volleyball, has even edged it’s way into the Olympics. Read more

I’ve never been so conscious of what my kids looked like as I am when I walk around the world with them during school hours. Most of the time I think people assume the kid is sick, or we are tourists in a town of no tourist activiites so we are forced toward the banal, like, Barnes & Noble or Subway.

Sometimes, though, I wonder if we look homeless. I’m not great at choosing my clothes. It’s an Asperger thing, I think. Because lots of people with Asperger’s dress inappropriately, and in one of the millions of test I’ve taken, one of the questions was: Do you wear mismatched socks? And I remember thinking: really? this matters so much that people put it on a test? I thought it’s common knowledge that it’s impossible to match socks after doing the laundry. So i assumed everyone wears mismatched socks. Read more

The biggest problem we have in our child-directed learning program is that my kids want to play video games all day. Well, that’s not true. They’ll choose eating over video games if they’re hungry. And they’ll choose to turn off their games to participate in activities they’ve chosen, like swimming or skateboarding.

But the way to deal with any moment of boredom is to turn on the video games. And in our lives, that means anything from a two-minute drive to the wood pile to a 90-minute drive into Madison. I have made a compromise with them: they turn down the volume on their DS’s and I play whatever violin or cello piece they are learning, or Bach, or, sometimes I take special requests like Willow Smith.

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I read a lot about how kids should have unstructured time to learn in non-sedentary ways. I totally agree. It’s just that I think it’s a conversation initiated by parents of overscheduled kids.

For homeschoolers, the idea that kids should have down time just being kids is pretty easy. After all, there are 14 waking hours of the kids’ days and for school kids 10 of those are spend dealing with school stuff. Homeschoolers don’t have that. They can do unstructured play all day long.

But I’m not sure that’s the best idea because then kids are not exposed to things they wouldn’t seek out on their own, in their small, home-based world. Read more

Today the vast majority of knowledge workers are using LinkedIn to manage their career, so, as a career counselor, it’s my job to keep track of what’s going on over there.

Recently, LinkedIn published a list of the ten most common words people use on their profiles. These words show what people value in themselves and other people.

1. Creative

2. Organizational

3. Effective

4. Extensive experience

5. Track record

6. Motivated

7. Innovative

8. Problem solving

9. Communication skills

10. Dynamic

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