There’s a reason that you see so many photos of the same activities on this blog. Because I’m not a big fan of dabbling. I want the kids to find what they are great at and focus on that. There is a wide body of research to show that being great at something feels a lot better than dabbling.

We should use this research to guide education, because nowhere in the world is well-roundedness still valuable. The last time you actually needed to be well-rounded was when the landed gentry was trying to marry off one of their daughters in the 1500’s. Then, it was good to find a woman who could dance, speak a bit of French, cook enough to supervise the household help, and play a bit of piano and keep up with male conversation about politics if need be. That’s well rounded. Read more

It turns out that test scores for US students are going down for science. And Steven Strauss, a leadership fellow at Harvard, says the US is approaching Third-World status because student math scores are so low. But you know what? Math scores are not the harbinger of developing society. Women entering the workforce and earning their own money is what leads a developing country out of Third-World status.

And you know what? Science scores are not what make women employable. Grit, determination, and self-confidence make women employable. Not because you can wish your way to the workforce, but because those traits make you able to get the help and mentoring you need to make your own money. Read more

If you are going to focus on teaching kids soft skills for successful living, then of course you are going to teach them about money. The idea of an allowance is becoming controversial. Maybe it’s not such a great idea.  But if you are going to teach money, then why not teach how to buy happiness? After all, what better lesson is there? So here are four lessons about buying happiness that kids can learn as kids.

1. Anticipation makes a purchase more exciting.
It was clear to me that we’d be buying a bike this summer. The kids learned to ride bikes on our trip to California, and my youngest son is hooked. Read more

A lot of people who hire me for career coaching finally tell me that what they really want is a way to make a life that will let them homeschool their kids. When they have kids. Here’s what I tell them:

1. Find a husband who makes enough money for you to stay home.
Look, if you don’t have kids yet, you should know that in most cases, one parent will homeschool the kids and one parent will work. It would be really nice if both parents could work part-time from home and both parents could homeschool, but this is extremely difficult to set up and it’s high risk because no one is concentrating on their career enough to keep it stable. Read more

We were in New York a few months ago, and of course we played with every animal we saw because my kids are, at this point, probably more farm than city.  And of course we had the violin and the cello because we travel with them everywhere because we practice every day, no matter what.

And I had this idea that I wanted photos of the kids, but I didn’t want normal, boring portraits. A while back I found the photographer, James Maher, and I was blown away by his street photography. And then I saw he sells his most popular prints to guardians of visual taste, like Tiffany. So I became obsessed with him, and then I cut a deal with him to hang out with us in New York City and take photographs for a day. Read more

I am receiving lots of emails about summer vacation and homeschooling. For example, the New Yorker cartoon (above) reflects how far behind school is in terms of teaching communication.

But the emails that are really nagging at me right now are the people telling me that I should write about how kids who go to school are homeschooled in the summer.

I think this is complete BS, and it stems from parents who know they should be homeschooling because it’s consistent with their values but for some reason (probably money and/or addiction to state-funded babysitting) they do not homeschool. Read more

It’s my weekly post about why kids shouldn’t go to college.

To be clear, I write these posts to convince myself that my kids should not go to college. I remember, about ten years ago, when I wrote that entrepreurship is a safety net. I felt like I was writing the post to justify the fact that I really wanted a cushy corporate job, but I woudn’t get to see my kids if I had that job, so I had to make my own job. The blog post was convincing myself that I was doing the right thing.

I was doing the right thing of course. But it’s hard to see in the moment when it feels so unstable and out in left field. Read more

The debate over the value of college is heating up. The value of degrees from non-top-tier colleges is negligible.  The future job market does not require a four-year college degree. And now Time magazine is advocating vocational school for most kids.

I have thought for a while that homeschool should be like vocational school. For example, when my son goes to horseback riding lessons, he doesn’t just ride. He learns to do the work of the people who run the horse barn. Sometimes I worry that my mind has been clouded from fifteen years of giving career advice and now I’m too vocationally focused. But now I’m thinking that vocational school is the education that kids need to be successful adults. Here are three reasons why: Read more

I’m looking for some way to decide if I should make my son go into Madison tomorrow for gymnastics. And swimming. He loves both of them, but he hates to leave the house.

I can understand: I hate to leave the house, too.  I think most people who have Asperger’s hate to leave their house. Well, we hate to do anything because decisions about transitions are so hard. So right now, I am engrossed in writing and my son is engrossed in his Bionicles and we’re really happy. Mostly because we know no one will bother us. We can do this all day, until dinner. Read more

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I just listened to a speech by Astra Taylor, who was homeschooled as a child. It’s significant that we are finally hearing from kids who were homeschooled about what it was like. I like that Taylor is honest enough to admit that each of the kids in her family asked to go to school for a year or two in order to see what they were missing.  I like that she sees this as a part of homeschooling—the idea that curiosity is most important, even when it is school that kids are curious about.

The biggest thing I took away from her speech is that school undermines the natural preparedness each kid has for the workforce, so by the end of eighteen years of schooling, a kid’s natural, salable talents are demolished. Here are three points she makes: Read more