Kids who go to school don’t homeschool in the summer

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.

So look, homeschooling is about trusting a kid’s curiosity. So if you send the kid to school all winter and then to camp all summer, your kid is surrounded by structure and adult control over how the kid spends their time.

All kids are gifted. There is a great conversation about this topic in the comments section of my last post. I truly believe this. There are 16 Myers Briggs personality types. Each person has a personality type that makes the person exceptional in one area. Every person is capable of making a significant contribution to society in one area just from his or her personality type.

Unfortunately, school and camp only rewards a narrow type of person—the rule followers. The people who think in very black and white terms (like, is this the right way to do it?). If you put a large group of kids together who are controlled by a single adult, then kids cannot figure out for themselves what they should be doing.

This is why the parent-child ratio is ideal. The parent doesn’t need to teach. The parent needs to make sure the kid eats and sleeps and doesn’t get lice. It’s easy to do that with just a few kids. And the kids can figure out where their passions lie.

If you cannot do this during the winter then surely you cannot do this during the summer. And if you can do this during the summer, and it’s working, then why on earth would you put your kid back in school?

So don’t tell me you do school in the winter and homeschool in the summer.

107 replies
  1. Taylor Wise
    Taylor Wise says:

    I love this. Because it is an addiction to state funded babysitting. I would love quiet mornings at home to do whatever, or to each lunch with friends without my kids, or to be able to run errands without racing through the store before a meltdown happens, but I can’t. We homeschool. And we homeschool because school seems like such a waste of time. It is a sacrifice to do it, as you have repeatedly mentioned. It is just a sacrifice a lot of people don’t want to make.

    • Amy
      Amy says:

      I second that! It is a sacrifice, but it’s worth it. There are plenty of things I could be doing that would be easier (and working full-time would qualify).
      As for summer – it looks much like the rest of the year here except we spend more time outside, with friends and take more day trips. The learning doesn’t start and stop with the seasons.

  2. Pirate Jo
    Pirate Jo says:

    Yes, it’s been obvious to me for many, many years that schools focus far more on the custodial aspect of things than the educational.

    And parents don’t even care – they just want a place to park their brats all day while they go out to earn a buck.

    Even my parents were that way, back in the 70s/80s. They cared more about the school keeping track of me at all times, and about how well I behaved and didn’t cause trouble, than about whether I was learning anything.

    Then again, this is probably a good reason for me NOT to have been homeschooled.

  3. Colin
    Colin says:

    “addiction to state-funded babysitting”

    Easily the least intelligent thing I have ever read that was written by you.

    • Laura
      Laura says:

      Well, it is state funded babysitting. That part is true. Unless the kid goes to a private school and then it’s parent funded babysitting.

    • Richard
      Richard says:

      I disagree completely. Of course, having a place to put children for a while isn’t the ONLY role school fulfills, but it is definitely a major one. This is how Penelope’s posts usually work — she says something which is has at least some truth to it. But she argues the position too audaciously or absolutistly. The point is to generate thinking and discussion. (And it works pretty well.)

      • P Flooers
        P Flooers says:

        Not only do I agree that institutional school is state funded babysitting. I would go so far as to say, nothing of much value happens there. An opinion not especially rare or controversial among homeschooling parents–if they are willing to speak the truth.

        • Colin
          Colin says:

          Yeah, there’s a reason I quoted “addiction to state-funded babysitting” instead of just “state-funded babysitting.” There is a difference between these quotes and it makes all the difference.

    • J
      J says:

      Yeah, you say this, but often when I tell fellow SAHMs with school-aged kids that I homeschool, they respond that they couldn’t do it. That they need the time away from their kids. Now, I don’t judge them, they’re not my kids, not my family. But when the primary benefit that school affords is time away from your kids, it’s hard to criticize the “state funded babysitting” perspective.

      • Pirate Jo
        Pirate Jo says:

        I judge them. I can’t even imagine what harebrained or nonexistent reasons these people even came up with for having kids in the first place. Maybe their parents or in-laws were pressuring them, maybe they couldn’t figure out birth control, or maybe they were just following all the other lemmings. I have no idea.

        Because really, these people think having kids is some kind of hobby. And they only think it’s a fun hobby if someone else spends time with the kids all day, if someone else teaches them, and if someone else pays for all of it. The commonly-held term for people who expect others to fund their hobbies is “deadbeats.”

          • CJ
            CJ says:

            Sincerely, could you expand on that? Were they abusive? Or crazy? Or did you just want independence and freedom from a healthy house and family? Do you remember when, at what age you have the memory of wanting the time away? Thanx cj

          • redrock
            redrock says:

            I don’t want to expand on my personal life, but let me just say that my parents were neither abusive nor crazy just not particularly suited for being home school parents or such. I enjoyed school, and academic subjects, and was an independent kid early on. And I don’t think the extraordinary closeness between parents and their home-or unschooled children is the only solution and path to all happiness.

          • Melissa
            Melissa says:

            In the 70s all kids spent loads of time away from parents. School followed by playing outside with friends til 6PM. We saw parents at dinner and a couple hours afterwards. On weekends heck we played outside all day. My entire neighborhood was that way. I loved my independence and am sorry my kids have much less.

            Now I’m homeschooling my 8 yo and wondering – so how and when do homeschooled kids get time away from parents? During after school activities? Travel to the aunt’s house? I’m having a hard time even connecting with other homeschooling families who might want to get together during the day.

  4. Mitchell Maddux
    Mitchell Maddux says:

    It may be that public-school parents do some form of homeschool in the summer: the kind that is school-in-a-box to homeschoolers. You know what I mean. Where there is a list of books to read and worksheets with stupid questions to answer and you pay crazy amounts of money for the materials so you feel like your children can “continue learning” all summer. It is self delusion, just as much as public school learning is delusion.

    • Lori
      Lori says:

      this could absolutely be true. parents making their 6yo’s do workbooks and calling that homeschooling. the people who make this claim (“we’ll just do that in the summer”) are usually mostly clueless about what homeschooling *is*, so it makes sense they would chase and label the wrong things.

  5. Angela
    Angela says:

    I loved going to school! I can’t imagine a childhood without going to school and having fun with friends. I could never homeschool…I love my kiddos but they would drive me CRAZY! LOL I’m going to be planning a somewhat structured summer but leave lots of time for outdoor unstructured play too.

    • P Flooers
      P Flooers says:

      “I love my kiddos but they would drive me CRAZY! LOL” Oh Angela….sigh. I do know what you mean by that statement. But you should know homeschooling parents hear it frequently and our general response is one of sadness. Like, totally not LOL. This one innocent phrase gets to the heart of the difference in family dynamics between home/institutional schoolers.

    • CJ
      CJ says:

      What really crushes my heart for you Angela is that you don’t even see the meaning of those giant words you used:

      You couldn’t imagine a childhood.

      And, somehow you were convinced into believing that school is the only way to have friendships? Is there a tree- only planted at school that grows friends for yours and everyones possessing? Ugh.

    • Judy
      Judy says:

      I am with you Angela! I loved school and my kids have as as well. I have a college senior who is on fire with passion for her major (gender & sex studies) and a well-rounded HS senior (yes — well-rounded–she gets As in Calc, physics, english, history, sings, acts, etcs) who is ready to head to a big city college to narrow down her varied interests and talents. I also have a rising 7th grader who excels in school, has made a ton of new friends during his first year in middle school, sings, acts, plays an instrument and participates in two sports as well. Our NJ district is a good, small district, but not “phenomenal” by any stretch.

      I think there are a sizable number of kids who love school in spite of its flaws. To have taken me out of the social learning environment would have killed me, and it would not have been in my children’s best interests at all. There is no way I could have provided the range of knowledge, ideas, experience, interaction and expertise my kids received in our local public schools.

      I don’t write this to disparage homeschooling, just to defend Angela above. “My kids would drive me nuts” is code for some of the ideas I expressed above, I think.

      My local school district provides far more than free babysitting and to characterize it as such is patently absurd.

      I read this blog with great interest, as I’m always interested in people whose points of view are different than my own. What divides our views? I am an extrovert and the thought of the small learning environment of a homeschool situation feels claustrophobic to me, and doesn’t feel at all in the best interests of my kids. Have those of you who will homeschool no matter what the quality of your local schools been scarred by school as children?

      It’s hard to wrap my head around why so many of you choose this!!

      • Bec Oakley
        Bec Oakley says:

        It’s funny that you chose the word claustrophobic Judy, because that’s exactly how school feels to us! The world is our oyster outside of the school system (we’re not stuck at home, so there’s nothing closed-in about it).

        It’s wonderful that you and your kids love school so much, clearly you’re exactly the kind of people that it was designed for. There are plenty of kids though that just don’t fit that mould.

        So saying that those of us who choose to homeschool must have been scarred by school as kids is like saying men don’t wear bras because they hate them. They don’t wear one because bras aren’t made for men, and wearing one would achieve absolutely nothing :)

        • Judy
          Judy says:

          I guess I am wondering why so many who write here think that all schools are bad. I get why some kids need to have a learning environment that is completely tailored to them, but… life isn’t like that for most of us!

          Really, I guess I am asking about the core values that both “sides” hold. I assure you that my values don’t include free babysitting, but raising kids who are smart, socially adept, compassionate, strong, and balanced. For me, I’ve relied heavily on my village to get my kids to that place. And the public schools — that offer so much of what I value under one roof, have played a huge role in my kids development.

          • CJ
            CJ says:

            Can you tell us why a young child needs to be placed in foreign, confined rooms with adults that are strangers to you and your child? Why do you want strangers deciding how, when, and in what amount dicipline is imposed? Why must they learn about the real world and how to be an adult in the real world when they are small children? Why are they forced into peer groups with, and only with their own age? Why can’t they be with senior citizens too? Children much older and younger too? Why cant they interact with the natural world all day? Why do they have to sit still all day and be told what to do? Why do children need to be told what to learn? Why can’t they explore? Dream? Play? All day everyday? But, most of all, why don’t our children get to decide? Shouldnt it be up to them? Independence is not taught. It is learned by living freely. Schools create dependence. Why do we want our children en mass to be dependent?

            It sounds like you are a very loving and dedicated parent that wants what is best for your children. An unschooling parent sees schools as prisons. It is not an attack on parents that we believe this, it is a fundamental belief about the systems being horrible, at best, for children. You believe in the system. Unschoolers can’t.

            I hope this helps. And I sincerely appreciate you coming to this subject with an open dialogue, rather than an attack :-)

      • Judy
        Judy says:

        One more thing.

        What I really take issue with is the characterization of public schools as state-sponsored babysitting. Maybe most of you have young kids, but some (hopefully many) public schools provide so much more for kids.

        My middle daughter graduates in 10 days. Our public schools (in a middle class community – the teachers’ parking lot has better cars than the student parking lot) have provided her the opportunity to study advanced science and math. She’ll probably never use either, but I believe working out complex physics and calculus problems has broadened her ability to think. I certainly could never have provided this for her. She’s read great literature and responded to it in writing and in class discussion. She’s studied advanced US history and government, and learned about important themes in history. She’s learned to analyze and think critically, articulate a point of view and to debate it with those who disagree. She’s not yet found her one academic passion, but I am sure she has the tools to continue her exploration in a meaningful way.

        She’s learned to navigate complex social systems. She’s learned to deal with authority figures for whom she does not always have great respect. She’s been afforded the opportunity to be a leader of her peers, both as a student body rep and as the leader of other organizations. She’s been given the chance to perform on stage as an actor and singer. She’s had the intense camaraderie of a competing marching band. She’s learned to juggle academics, extra-curriculars, community service and a social life.

        She’s seen that these opportunities require the help of parents and community members. She’s eaten pizza for dinner because her parents were setting up a fundraiser for the marching band. She knows that she is expected to give back for others.

        What my daughter has been privileged to receive for the past 13 years is so much more than state-sponsored babysitting. It’s the collective effort of a village that values children. It’s not a rich village, or one that encourages children to believe they are “entitled.” This village has collectively provided my child with so much more than I alone could engineer for her.

        I guess I believe the best we can do for our kids’ ultimate happiness and fulfillment is put them in the best possible village, encourage them to take advantage of all the village has to offer, and then for us all to participate.

        My kid is heading off to a Jesuit university that stresses the need to prepare yourself to make a difference in the world. She’ll have a huge array of core requirements to fulfill so she’ll continue to dabble in history, science, math, art, literature, theology and ethics. I am so excited for her to go to this next phase, knowing she is well prepared with a solid foundation of academic, intellectual and social skills.

        State-sponsored babysitting my ass!

        • CJ
          CJ says:

          Deep thought and profound learning happens within the self. It is not taught. Experientially, you describe in both your posts exactly what a school system wants you to take pride in about their artificial environment. School never ever allows the time for children to be children,which before they are about 13 ish is what they need the very most. Not the village, not the systems, not the artificiality. They need love and a free environment to get lost in their ginormous inestimably beautiful minds. Barraging their brains with small cells, constant switching every half hour or hour, being away from their families, and being shown how to follow orders, rather than think for themselves is characteristic of all public, religious, and private schools. The democratic and free schools should replace the current system, for those who want a social environment or who feel they cannot home school.

          Your amazing children did not need to be “prepared” to learn. They were born to learn. all children need time to get lost in their minds. To find profound boredom so real creativity and leadership skills can blossom, and they deserve parents that protect their daydremaing time, rather than 35-40 hours a week in school.

          • Judy
            Judy says:

            CJ, there was no reply link to your comment above.

            I guess the quick sum-up would be to say that my goal is helping my kids make their mark on the community and the world we actually live in, not in creating a world that is designed around my kids.

            I am sure there are children with special needs that can’t possibly be accommodated in a public school. But to portray public schools as prisons is inaccurate and absurd.

            I would bet that your children are very young. I doubt my 17 and 21-year-old daughters would be the human beings they are today had they been left to daydream as teenagers. Our high school had senior awards last night. My daughter won the math achievement award. She’s not naturally interested in math, and if she scores well enough on the AP calc exam, she’ll probably not ever again take a math class. Is she a better for having taken and excelled in higher order math? Absolutely! Would she have pursued this if left to her own devices? Most probably not.

            I’d like to resume this discussion in 10 years time!

          • CJ
            CJ says:

            Race to Nowhere Judy. Race to nowhere…

            I assure you with absolute certainty and experience, the drill baby drill mode of parenting has neither anything to do with raising human beings nor their future happiness.

            There is a reason America has the highest childhood suicide rates of the industrialized world, the highest Ritalin use, the most anxiety-med dependent society.

            I challenge you to read works such as Einstein Never Used Flashcards, or Dumbing Us Down, or Teach Your Own. Also, all in one day, visit a hospital, a prison, and a school. I have done this many times- you’ll tip over from the similarities.

            I wish you well! Namaste. CJ

          • Judy
            Judy says:

            I am neither racing nor drilling. I live in a solidly middle class community. My kids don’t go to private tutoring or expensive summer camps — or any summer camps. It’s a town where the majority of kids play in the summer.

            I would guess that our differences lie in a different view of human nature, and of our role as parents. My goal for my kids is to find work that they enjoy, relationships that fulfill them, a sense of their obligation to the rest of the world, confidence to pursue their dreams, opportunity to explore those dreams, leisure that brings them relaxation and pleasure — a life of balance. They’ve been lucky to grow up in a place that has already set them on this path.

            Best wishes to you and yours.

  6. P Flooers
    P Flooers says:

    All kids are homeschooled, insofar as what happens at home is most important. However, institutional-schooled children basically spend their entire summer deschooling. If they are allowed to have what we think of as a traditional or customary summer. Deschooling is an important and little understood concept. And it usually sinks in for these kids just about the time they are sent back. Sad.

    Even sadder is when you meet parents who send their children to institutional school AND follow curriculum all summer. Wow, that’s some serious drinking of Kool-aide, imo.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This is such an important idea. I think parents need to deschool as well. I needed that. It took me months to figure out how to function when there was no institution telling me what to do with my kids every day. Just figuring out what time we should wake up and go to bed – like what is good for the family vs what is good for school.

      So I think it takes three months for kids to deschool in the same way it takes three months for parents to deschool.

      And then, just as the kids are at their own equilibrium, they have to go back….


  7. karelys
    karelys says:

    Sometimes I think that Penelope’s history of being raised in a wealthy family (from what I gather) to having well paying jobs (I don’t know how she got into that) to forming a self sustaining stream of income that she can do from home makes her think “anyone who doesn’t homeschool is because they don’t want to.”

    I always think of the mothers who must work and who have no skills, education, connection or ideas on how to make it so that their income remains while they are not chained to an office or building outside their house 9-5 (at the very least).

    I am taking the plunge. I am going to go make money somehow and very last resort will be to take a job that requires me to be somewhere for certain time blocks. But I know how much I’ve had to grow and learn to make it happen.

    I am still terrified but I am more terrified at handing my kid over to someone so I can go work nad barely make ends meet.

    The thing is, being pregnant is too much work and being a parent is agonizing over lots of things. People don’t have careers for the sake of their own names and identities only anymore. We need money to make things happen.

    I am readjusting priorities and I want to know what the real needs are before I freak out. But even then, I gotta figure out how to make money from my house on my own terms.

    Many people can’t do anything like that. And even if they realize that school is just a big babysitting service they still go bills to pay.

    How do we move away from talking, only, about how beneficial homeschooling is, to how to make it happen?

    Co-op style homeschool? sometimes I think it could kind of work. But there’s so much to it.

    How do we come up and share ideas on how to move away from the “job style” workforce to make (at the very least) enough money to sustain our families?

    People did it at some point. Before everyone had jobs. I am trying to get back in touch with that. But I can only reach so far.

    • P Flooers
      P Flooers says:

      “How, specifically, do folks manage to homeschool even if they aren’t wealthy?”

      That’s a great question. Of course, there are many different answers. Some homeschooling families simply live on or below the poverty line because they value hand raising their children over more income. You can research tips for cheap living–a very popular topic with homeschoolers.

      And I can reassure you, if you are a first time parent, you don’t need half what you may think you need. Consider reading “The Double Income Trap.”

      It is a myth that only wealthy folks homeschool. When we started, we were living on 18,000 a year. Yes, we lived on about 800 a month. It was tough. And it was priceless.

      • Fatcat
        Fatcat says:

        How to homeschool if you’re not wealthy …

        My husband and I have both worked the whole time. We get free resources on the internet and we change our shifts around so that one of us is available/home with the kids. It’s not as important now that they are older, but when they were little, he worked third, I worked second. Then for a while, I worked first shift, he homeschooled in the morning and now we both work first shift but I work at home, so I can keep the kids on track. If it is a priority, you make it work.

        • CJ
          CJ says:

          First, I love your handle Fatcat!

          Second, I have copied and pasted this post into emails to friends! Thanks so much!

  8. anna
    anna says:

    i don’t know if i would say i “homeschool” in the summer, but i do know i am one of the only people in my suburban neighborhood who doesn’t send their kids to camp in the summer b/c i think structured school is enough, and they don’t also need structured camp also.

    so sure, i think i might call my summer with my kids at least unschooling even if it isn’t quite homeschooling.

  9. Bec Oakley
    Bec Oakley says:

    This was interesting, but I was hoping for more of a look into the whole idea that kids ever need a break from learning.

    Most parents wouldn’t ‘homeschool’ their kids in the summer break because they believe kids need downtime from learning… when what they mean is that they need a break from being schooled.

    If you take the approach that life is learning (or learning is life) then the learning never stops, and you don’t need to demarcate times in which you do it. It’s not an arduous thing that you need to rest or recover from. My kids still talk about ‘the school holidays’ and it’s taken me a while for them to get the idea that there is no such thing as ‘school’ and ‘break’ anymore, it’s all just life.

    It seems like such a strange system that promotes the idea that kids need to spend 1/4 of the year relaxing from being in school. Or is that just me?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I don’t think the kids are excited about a break from learning. I think they are excited about a break from school. Big difference. I don’t think anyone needs to be told that lifelong learning is good. It’s our default state: learning. It’s just that school teaches us to accept boredom and then when its time to go out in the work world we have been convinced, by schools, that accepting boredom and a flat learning curve is ok.


  10. Mary
    Mary says:

    What I find even more irritating than the “homeschooling during the summer” comments are the people who currently are making their FB status something like this: “Last day of school today – now a whole summer with the kids – what to do??” or “only 2 more months until school starts!’

    As a homeschooling parent this just saddens (and disgusts) me. Our children have been given the lowest place on our social totem pole so that parents can pursue jobs, “me time”, and other nebulous things.

    We have completed our mandated 180 days of school, but my kids don’t know it, and they’re not asking when we our “last day of school” is… learning is just a lifestyle, and their curious minds keep working ALL.YEAR.LONG…. as all of our minds should.

    I am such a fan of your blog. Thank you for telling it like it is.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      “…I find even more irritating …[are]people who [say]”Last day of school today – now a whole summer with the kids – what to do??” or “only 2 more months until school starts!”

      The other side: the teachers who post how they can’t wait for the day/week/year to be over. It’s still “just a job,” no matter how much they want to be sainted for doing it.

    • Melvina
      Melvina says:

      I scream only 2 more months till schooll starts on FB…. But only because we are always excited to jump into the next year!!! (especially when we start on our schoolroom, or organizing our home library for the new year!)

  11. Colin
    Colin says:

    Ever watch The Matrix series? Did those people released from the matrix ever mock, insult, or otherwise feel anything but pity for those still in the matrix? You homeschoolers need to be more like them. Mary’s post made me think of this.

    Posts like Mary’s and Trunk’s exhibit a general attitude toward those in school is not of pity or sorrow, but of mocking contempt. You simply CANNOT BELIEVE parents would be so utterly moronic to subscribe to The System and ruin their children for forever because they have this inherent need to have children yet cannot stand to deal with them so best to get “addicted to state-funded babysitting” and push them off for others to tend to.

    As someone who has been in school, is in school, and will continue to be so for a while longer, I read these posts because I generally find Trunk’s opinions worth my time. The notion of homeschooling appeals to me (no kids yet), but I find the mocking contempt rather deplorable. I certainly disagree with Trunk’s position that kids should not go to college because there are fields that you cannot get into without college (for some fields (e.g., history) I absolutely agree with Trunk). Maybe that will change: I don’t know. Regardless, as one with three engineering degrees and a med student, I fail to see how homeschooling would be capable of getting me to where I am without college for many of the concepts I know require a PhD instructor because of the sheer complexity of the topic. I have outstanding questions that have not been answered — which is fine, I don’t expect others to answer them for me — and, for those reasons, I do not see that homeschooling/unschooling/whatever-the-term-du-jour-is is sufficient.

    Be advocates, not haters, and as a person you should be advocating toward I have to admit that you are doing a terrible job at it. Stop ranting about how parents are ruining their children and being selfish, and address issues to advocate your homeschooling (I have seen many issues raised in comments that are ignored, including some of my own). Trunk, use this blog to justify to yourself why you homeschool if you wish — it *IS* your domain — but you are not winning me over by doing nothing more than consistently bashing your opponent (i.e., schools). Stop hating and advocate already.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I”m gonna go out on a limb here, Colin. You have three engineering degrees? And now med school? You know what? If you wanted to be a doctor all this time you could have taken the GED and organic chemistry and gotten into med school. Northwestern doesn’t even require an undergrad degree for med school – only killer MCAT scores.

      And, if I may be so bold, had you gone that route – homeschool and then med school – you’d be able to support yourself right now. My guess is that you do not make enough money to support yourself. You are in school, living off loans. Probably not something anyone would aspire to do at your age.


      • Colin
        Colin says:

        First, your assumption that I had the choice of [home]schooling is simply preposterous. Ridiculous even. Second, I did not want to be a doctor all this time. Lastly, I am curious how you believe anyone could support themselves in med school (homeschooled or not). You possess either the greatest secret untold or are simply clueless about med school.

      • victoria
        victoria says:

        That’s not correct about Northwestern Medical School. They require three years of college, which must include a year of English, two years of chem (through orgo), a year of bio, and a year of physics. (You can’t get accepted into medical school in this country without that coursework; it’s required by the body that accredits medical schools).

        In practice, though, they don’t let people in who have three years of college and that minimum of coursework, no matter what their MCATs. I would frankly be surprised if any students are currently attending medical school in the US (let alone a school of Northwestern’s caliber) who don’t have a bachelor’s degree. 90% of people admitted to Northwestern have formal research experience, many have advanced degrees (sometimes even Ph.D.s) before they enter medical school, and virtually all have taken medically-relevant coursework beyond those minimums — genetics, anatomy & physiology, biochemistry, and beyond.

    • P Flooers
      P Flooers says:

      “Be advocates, not haters, and as a person you should be advocating toward I have to admit that you are doing a terrible job at it.”

      Uh, you have how many degrees? As a person representing higher education, “I’m not so sure that word means what you think it does.”

        • P Flooers
          P Flooers says:

          Well…do you remember this scene in The Princess Bride:

          You kind of remind me of Vizzini. I know you are going to take offense and I’m sorry. But you’re blustering around here in the name of higher education making vague and barely relevant points with poorly worded writing. Behavior fairly typical of someone raised in the compulsively competitive institution of what passes for education in this country. So, this conversation is ironic. And a bit sad.

          But, ya know, I was a horrible student. I never finished college. What do I know?

          • Colin
            Colin says:

            And the fun part is is that I can fire right back that your critical reading skills are pretty weak. Neither are productive insults.

            I am not necessarily advocating for public & higher education for everyone (unlike many here, I do see both positive and negative sides), I am saying that people send children to school because they themselves were sent to school. From your perspective, they are in the matrix. And instead of having pity on them, you show contempt. Instead of advocating the better way of homeschooling, you lambast at the ridiculously bad decisions they are making for their children. You are hating, not advocating.

            Homeschooling is something I would consider for my future children but none of Trunk’s points convince me of it. Only that not doing so is dumb, which doesn’t actually address any of the questions I have (don’t presume to find them in these posts). I chose engineering, worked for 5 years then changed to medicine. Shunning college, as Trunk vociferously advocates, is not how you can be an engineer nor how you can be a doctor. Despite her suggesting you can go to med school without a bachelor’s, while technically true for some schools, is so lofty and pie-in-the-sky that it denies the hypercompetitive reality that is getting into med school. Tell me how a homeschooler can get into med school without writing off the seriousness of the question with “get a GED and take organic chemistry.” The simplicity of this just makes the suggestion appears to be out of nothing short of sheer ignorance. Even saying “get a bachelor’s with a 4.0” is equally useless as a valid answer.

            Stop making me the enemy; stop making schooling parents the enemy.

          • CJ
            CJ says:

            Colin, if it is technically true, um, well, then IT IS TRUE.

            And, other parents are not the enemy (and certainly not unparents such as yourself, LOL). Public schools as they are today are the problem. What is the most humorous about your constant commenting is that you miss the glaring truth that even those within institutional education KNOW, ADMIT, PREACH about the “broken system.” “Needed reform.” “The crippled policies.”

            And, as intelligent or even semi so parents, we are supposed to say, yah sure, take my most precious children and violate them?

            It’s like a solar spray of blinding light that you are just a devil’s advocate kinda guy. And funnier still is sitting here quite confident (sure I am arrogant to say) that if you ever have children I know for an absolute fact that you will homeschool. Why? Because the first time an establishment tells you they know more about raising your kids than you do- your personality type is the first one to say, “No, hell-no!”

            Love and Peace, CJ

      • redrock
        redrock says:

        If I understand Colin correctly, going into medicine was a somewhat later in life decision. It is actually a very smart career move at the same time – medical doctors with an engineering degree are very very well paid and sought after. One of the problems with judging a degree, the requirements for a degree and the tenacity and hard work it takes to get one is that most people look in from the outside. This way one only sees a little bit of the work, a little segment of the courses people take to acquire their expertise and it looks easy. A friend of mine got her UG degree in biology and french and then aced the MCAT. She is incredibly smart, and struggled mightily to catch up in her first year of med-school. I doubt that there are many who will make it just having taken organic chemistry course and the MCAT. But I have to admit I would be curious about the numbers.

        • CJ
          CJ says:

          I know it is very possible. I have a masters degree in human nutrition. The base coursework for this is exactly identical to the premed track that most people do as UG classes for a fortune at four year colleges. I waited until grad school to do this coursework and piece mealed it together in a number of ways: cheap community college ($13 per unit hour), some online coursework, and some tested out, then I paid the real money only for the highest upper division graduate courses that I couldn’t get out of. I am just making the point that there are many crooked lined paths to success and many have taken many unbeaten paths with great success. It is very hard work, it often seems impossible, and I agree that there are lots on the outside looking in thinking they know what it is like on the inside. I thought I might want to be a doctor, but I realized I am much more effective on the prevention side of the house. I expect that those individuals that take the rougher path, like your friend, will be the MOST successful because they obviously already had a level of determination not yet proven by those who take the spooned out traditional routes. If you can ace the MCAT and you have determination, you have every reason to be successful, the traditional UG tract is not mandatory, or even detrimental.

          • redrock
            redrock says:

            I agree that there are many paths, which I think enriches the profession (of medicine in this particular discussion here). But you have done much more than just a course of organic chemistry and the MCAT to make it this far, you built a solid foundation of knowledge, and the point was that this is what is required independent of path taken to get there. A chemistry course is just not enough.

          • Colin
            Colin says:

            I cannot reply to your post above (apparently there is a maximum reply depth).

            “Colin, if it is technically true, um, well, then IT IS TRUE.”

            Boy, you sure got me. If only life were so…simple. It is also technically true that a 35 year old [US native born] openly homosexual atheist english-as-a-second-language non-white transgendered could be president of the United States after the next election, the practical reality of such a person doing so is an entirely different matter (for reasons beyond this discussion and not that I have anything against such a hypothetical person). I only use this example to point out the absurdity of your ignorance in getting me that “technically true = true” because it ENTIRELY misses the point of what is practical and feasible. If being a physician is your goal from birth (bully to you) then getting a GED and [naively just taking] organic chemistry is probably the absolute hardest way to get in, if not outright impossible due to missing course requirements. Might as well wear basketball shorts and tell your interviewers you just want to cut people to watch them bleed.

            “What is the most humorous about your constant commenting is that you miss the glaring truth…”

            Apparently “unlike many here, I do see both positive and negative sides” wasn’t clear enough that I do not see public & higher education as flawless, as you presume that I do. My goal here is not to chime in public education per se, but to better understand homeschooling. I am no closer to my goal.

          • Colin
            Colin says:

            I already asked one issue that got a terrible response. I asked more broadly on “Homeschool kids should not go to college” and got equally unhelpful response, including from you. Hostility even.

            I do not expect to just blurt out my questions and have them answered. However, I will ask one that Trunk persistently avoids. Science & research. I really do not think I need to actually formulate a question because any reader of Trunk’s knows she pretty much denies these areas exist (especially when ranting against college). It’s all goat farming, video games, and career advice.

            If you want to research the next drug to cure malaria or find the Higgs boson, then you are not getting any position out there without a doctorate. (Sorry, your example of Vivien Thomas is “old school” and he happened to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right person and with the right interests and abilities.) If you’re thinking you can just homebrew a solution then you’re insane or so incredibly brilliant you call Einstein and Salk mere amateurs. And incredibly rich. Billions rich. But then you can throw away the money on college for that doctorate anyway to buy your way in.

            Intellectual property is another huge problem, especially if you want to build on something that already exists. Big problem unless you’re billions rich. It’s even a problem if you want to do something that is readily accessible at home, now, and for free: software.

            I also cannot ask a question because these really comprises dozens, if not hundreds, or individual specific questions. It’s incredibly vague and huge.

            If all you are there for, as a parent, is to make sure they are fed, rested, and lice-free and you live on a single-income that is marginally adequate ($800/mo as PF said) then you will lack sufficient resources to have kids enter these high-stakes careers like scientific research. Maybe you are fine denying that future (and professional engineering and architectural and…all the other professions I listed on “Homeschool kids should not go to college”) but I am not. If my wife homeschools children then I want to know those options are open (should they want them), and they just may well be because I personally have access to a few of those areas.

            In general for the random person though (you want to end public education, yes?), I have not seen sufficient explanation by anyone as to keeping all these career options open if you deny public & higher education and homeschool/unschool/whatever. Yes kids are creative and brilliant and gifted and smart and yada yada, but I am not convinced that homeschooling is all lollipops and happiness.

            [This should be sufficiently vague of a post that it would be easily to ignore the substance of what I am getting at, and, frankly, I expect such to happen.]

          • Zellie
            Zellie says:

            Colin, we can’t tell you how your child can pursue a career in science or medicine as a homeschooler because it won’t be a proven career track. It will be an individual pursuit.

            You are hung up on the statement that homeschoolers shouldn’t go to college. They can go even if Penelope says they shouldn’t. And if they don’t want to they can figure out how to do what they want. One way is to decide on the goal, determine requirements and figure out how to meet them.

            Your child may choose college even if you don’t want him to. Who knows how he’ll pay for it by then.

        • CJ
          CJ says:

          With all due respect, you have no idea whatsoever what you are or not ok with regarding your imaginary children before you have them. You won’t believe the mountain of ah-hah notions you will embrace and/or let go of. It is easy to understand as a student of engineering and medical sciences why you have a brain hold on not-wanting-to-limit access by homeschooling. And, believe it or not, I applaud your attempt at finding some of this out before you become a parent. So, you can argue all day about IF UG college is needed or not, but really, it doesn’t matter because colleges highly desire (and always have) homeschooled entrants. This is historically true and easy to find info about the tradition of the wealthy- which used to be who higher edu was designed for- home schooling their children. Public school was designed for the masses as we’re the state universities. It still pervades today, this notion that Harvard is for the elite and state U is for the poor kids, right? You, me, we are all smarter to homeschool if gaining access to college is a goal. On Dr. Thomas story, if you want a laundry list of more examples from the here and now, I can only again encourage a viewing of John Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction YouTube video, it is about 1hour long.

          Yes. I do want public schools as we know them to go away. The Free Schools, the Sudbury Schools, the Waldorf Schools (that are true Waldorf schools/non competitive unlike the private NYC model) should be what is available to the masses because I do unfortunately understand that many people don’t want to stay home with their families. And, then Homeschool for everyone else. I believe Homeschool and Free Scholls should be the norm, rather than the flip of this. If you or anyone takes the time to explore Illich, he explains our loss of freedom and the mess of things by letting government controlled strangers raise our children. That is the bigger picture- yes vague, hard to get our minds around. But, Colin, if your kids want sciences, they will make it happen. Most people won’t/don’t need UG college anymore and your kids can do it either way. On intellectual property and building of ideas, I am closer to you about this because the group thinking and idea exchange is crucial. But as one example, lots of geeks have forgone edu and done start ups just to make this happen- think of the giant video gaming movement of the 90s, especially in CA. They may not have been Einsteins, but these guys new their relativity for sure. Hyper caffeinated, all night long pow wower science groups banging out billions in the gaming market. All high school and or college drop outs. I am going to rap this up now by saying IMO you are focusing way too much on far off and unpredictable future. Today homeschool is best. Today public school sux. One of my favorite things PT says is that even if the system gets fixed, it isn’t happening in time for my kids. Peace, CJ

          • redrock
            redrock says:

            Gaming and coding for gaming is very different from understanding the theory of relativity. These kids did very cool stuff for very few years – it is impossible to sustain such a life for more than a few years because your body will break down. After that they either had problems to come down from the constant adrenaline daze or merged into more traditional routes of education and employment (programmer at microsoft is a traditional corporate employment). Not many of them made enough money to quit working. And gaming coder is a very male dominated profession, I hope you have an equivalent vision for the girls?

          • CJ
            CJ says:

            The handful I and/or my husband have stayed in touch with of course are still working? Why wouldn’t they work? They gained amazing experience and were already talented. Sure there’s a few at Microsoft type and other 9-5 inc.s, some are doing film work. One friend stayed in gaming, still never works/sleeps/eats any sort of traditional way and loves it. This was just one of many ex. of a path that could be taken. Agreed that then it was male dom, back then…but I am a woman that has a long history of working in male dominated fields so not understanding your post. Are you saying women are not permitted?

          • redrock
            redrock says:

            well, your example about the gaming coder community is a relatively small community of individuals with a highly specific skill set. It is a little like the black swan example, yes this community exists and might have a disproportionate number of smart kids who did not do any UG degrees – but it is in my opinion unsuitable to use as an example for the average student/teen and his/her life plans. Yes, you can be successful in life without a HS or college degree, but if you get one or two of them it does not mean that one is just a follower and cannot think independently. A degree is not a sign of failure as some commentors here seem to imply. And going to college to get a science (or any degree) degree does not automatically stunt creativity. Quite a few without degree (or prior teaching over several years in the discipline) have told me that they could easily catch up by reading a few books and watching MITx. Many in this group underestimated the rigor and dedication required to be successful in science research; some in the first group also underestimate the tenacity and perseverance of the work, but often have a more realistic idea as to what to expect.

          • CJ
            CJ says:

            YES! Totally. And aren’t we really just a global community made of bunches and bunches of teenie tiny ones? I ADORE that you mention the black swan. You get it.

            Don’t mistake me, I plan to ‘torture myself’ through doctoral work. But, this is because I just simply love academia. Not because I think it is ‘righteous’ or ‘societally advantageous.’ and I too have faced many while I was obtaining my degrees that didn’t get my blood sweat and tears.

            Wasn’t it you who posted the link to the billionaire that is paying brilliant students to drop out of college? Sorry if I am mistaken….you know this guy has like 8 thousand followers on twitter. They hate him, or they think he’s batshite bonkers, or that this is what billionaires do….and you know? He hasn’t tweeted once. Not once….Just the IDEA of doin it different is a hard pill to swallow for society. College is just not the only or best way for the masses, imho. I have seen too much to the contrary.

          • redrock
            redrock says:

            no I did not post the link you mention, but I know the story. Interestingly enough 90% of the students he funds to not finish college have absolutely stellar prior academic records from top institutions. They are not the example of the self-taught person coming from a non-academic background pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.

          • CJ
            CJ says:

            Yes, it is a good point. But, remember, when they are successful, the world and the media will certainly call them, and never let anyone forget, they are drop outs

  12. Karen Loe
    Karen Loe says:

    I’ll go out on a limb and have an opinion different than all of the other posters so far:

    I don’t debate at all, so, I want to give you kudos for your great replies also.

  13. CJ
    CJ says:

    PT, I flippen love this post! I love that you talk about the BS. It reminds me of how other parents tell me how they know everything about being a stay home parent when they have never done it, often comparing it to some three week family vacation they took or something. Or they say things about how they are “practically stay home” because of their vacation schedule. Summer break is not homeschooling anymore than vacation is stay home/work from home parenting. I don’t pretend to know what it feels like to work 60 hours outside the home and raise my kids but for some reason everyone knows what homeschooling and staying home is. The assumptions! It always confuses me.

    Also, because of you I took the MB test. I have never had any interest until I read one of your links from a year or so ago on your career side of blog. It was surreal to read about myself (guess I am not as unique as I thought, LOL) in such a specific, thorough and stunningly accurate portrayal. The good news is that my husband and I are not only happy, but are after all compatible ;-) He has known his type for many years in the corporate world and has found much humor in my facing my own descriptions- in the pros, and also the cons. Thanks!!!

  14. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    The kid in the cartoon – arms crossed and telling his teacher that his summer experiences are on Twitter – is funny. The problem is he doesn’t appear to be a rule follower and therefore probably won’t get rewarded for his ingenuous comment. The kid may be considered to be disrespectful depending on the teacher. All this to say I think the cartoon fits well with this post (even though I like your photos). You’re probably just changing it up to keep us off-balance. It’s something I think you like to do. :)

  15. Lori
    Lori says:

    this makes me laugh for two reasons. one, it is EXACTLY the same thing that rural parents are always saying about their kids getting culture. “we’ll just supplement that at home.” i grew up in a very small, rural town and people were always saying this – whatever we’re missing here, we’ll make up by driving to nearby city to go to museums and watching a lot of PBS.

    two, not only do i hear people say they’ll homeschool during the summer, i’ve also heard them say they’ll *unschool* during the summer. wha?

    no one wants to think that they’re making choices that *exclude other choices*. parents who send their kids to school want to believe that they can also get all the benefits of homeschooling during the summer – with none of those pesky socialization issues because they also go to school!

  16. Julianna
    Julianna says:

    I don’t really understand this side of the homeschooling movement. I don’t mean this post per se, but the general tone you’re taking. Is it really what you think is best for kids in general, or what you think is best for your kid, where you are right now.

    If you think it’s best for kids point blank, I get it. I don’t agree, but I can see where you’re coming from in these posts.

    But I think you are doing this because it’s the best option for your kids in your situation. I get this MORE! If you still zoned for PS321, I bet you a hundred bucks you’d be there. But you find yourself in a crappy school system and you can do better yourself — and you see the many positives homeschooling allows.

    If this is the case, why not say it. Why not say, there are schools that would do better than I can do, but I don’t live near one (or can’t afford one, or my kids didn’t get into one or whatever).

    In other words, why does the decision you made for your kids based on your circumstances have equate to the “Homeschooling is Best” (aka “You’re doing it wrong”) philosophy? Other than it creates a better blog, obv.

    • CJ
      CJ says:

      I hope PT responds.

      Wanted to give voice to those of us that live in one of the top rated school districts in the entire USA. I also have a plethora of the top national private schools in the nation all within a very short driving distance to choose from and I can both afford them and can gain access. I will raise your hundred bucks to “you couldn’t pay me enough money” to put my children into institutional edu. Not while they are children. When they get to their teen years, if they want to try it out for their own gee wiz, I will be supportive. Right now, I am protecting their childhoods. Our family is permitting them to be children. Schools cannot and will not offer the same. If you read any of the suggested materials throuout the homeschool blogs by posters, you will see that establishment schools, no matter how well intentioned, are damaging and never ideal for children. Peace, CJ

      • P Flooers
        P Flooers says:

        I suppose most parents begin homeschooing because they think its right for their children and through the process eventually come to see institutional school for what it is. After which, most no longer believe institutional school is a good place to raise human beings.

        • CJ
          CJ says:

          This is a lovely comment PF, it really has the profound roots into where the separation (for lack of better term) occurs. I admit with open ness, that I was in the “how on earth will children learn anything if they don’t do it through establishment?” Before!!!!

          I always dreamed of higher edu. Believe me, I was and remain completely humble about my own transformation on school. I equated ivy league with the top of the tree line. You know? I pick on the Colins because I identify with him and so many naysayers.

          And then there is your exact verbiage: human beings. Not corporate slaves, or vocational underlings, or goodness forbid, waitresses (which I made a darn god living at in my youth, btw, and loved it).

          Ivan illich

          • CJ
            CJ says:

            (cont) was a master at explaining how silly we are to give up our children to a system and cave to laws that demand such. I personally went to war. For what? To defend freedom right? I love him because in 1970 he declared what we already KNOW that systemic institutions are wrong. Why? Because the systems are working against freedom. This is what our children desperately need: freedom.

            So the real Q is how do we as a group of 2 million and gaining in the USA effect/affect change in edu on a big scale? I ponder I ponder I ponder….

            Namaste CJ

        • AP
          AP says:

          Finally, a comment about why parents choose to homeschool that doesn’t denigrate parents who don’t. Many of the commenters on this post are really hateful and on a soapbox about homeschooling and how superior they are for choosing it. Ugh. I believe I would like to homeschool our kids, but my husband doesn’t want to (they go to a private school, currently). I’d like to at least give it a go and this summer is our “homeschool tryout”. So, yes, we are acting like homeschoolers this summer to see how it goes and to see if its something the kids want to continue. So far, after our conversations about it, my son and daughter say they want to stay at their school. They have friends at school and they are learning two foreign languages (my daughter specifially said she didn’t want to lose the opportunity to keep learning both languages). My other daughter says she wants to homeschool, no question. But, the summer hasn’t yet started, so we’ll see. I am hoping that as I reach out to our homeschooling community in our urban area I will meet people who will not tell me how I am unenlightened and foolish to think I am actually homeschooling during this summer. That is not the kind of socializing I want to be a part of (for those of you big on socialization).

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      First of all, the middle schools for PS321 suck. I just need to get that out there for the smug Park Slopers.

      And I went to New Trier, which usually ranks in any top ren list of public high schools, and I wouldn’t send my kids to school if I lived in those districts, either.

      Schools that are “good” are schools that are giod at getting kids to score well on tests. We have no otger way to compare schools nationally besides test scores.

      And we have no evidence that scoring well on tests makes for good lives, so there is no reason to send kids to a “good” school. They are as useless as the “bad” schools since both types of schools serve to drag you away from individualized, customized learning based in personal passion.


      • Julianna
        Julianna says:

        I’m a NYer but not a Park Sloper — I only mentioned 321 bcs I thought you used to live in that cachement and assumed you moved there for a reason.

        But talking about middle schools when your kids are in elementary school is kind of a Park Slope way to think, isn’t it? I mean, you may not think the D15 middle schools are great (altho most people do), but that’s why you wouldnt send your kid to a k-5 school? Anyway, I know 321 kids who have moved onto Brooklyn New School, NEST, Brooklyn International School, MS51, Packer, St Anns, and Mark Twain and who are really happy. I have no idea about test scores — altho I know 2 of those schools dont even give kids grades — I only know if parents and kids are happy. Hey, I know happy kids who go to school. Weird, I guess.

        PT says, “Schools that are “good” are schools that are giod at getting kids to score well on tests. We have no otger way to compare schools nationally besides test scores.”

        I disagree with this. That may be how US News compares schools, but I think parents compare schools based on reputations, tours, talking to their neighbors’ kids’ who are in various schools — all sorts of things. Parents I know take a pretty sophisticated approach.

        My college roommate went to New Trier and says about her kids’ school options, “anything but New Trier! No mills!” I agree with this. No mills.

  17. Tia
    Tia says:

    I just linked to this in my personal blog, and these were my comments:

    “I love how she says that all kids are gifted – that there are 16 different types of Myers-Briggs personalities, and each of them are gifted in a particular area – but school & summer camp only encourage rule following & conformity. They do not allow children to figure out what they should be doing. I couldn’t agree more, which is why I plan to unschool.
    Coincidentally, I was just talking to my husband yesterday about how I changed my mind on what I’d major in during college over and over again – only to decide once I was pregnant & emotionally connected to my unborn baby that I’d rather be a SAHM & homeschool than go to college, have a career, and let someone else experience the joy of raising my child. I was talking about how the jobs I’m good at are things like teacher, counselor, social worker – stuff involving children. But I want to do that at home with my own child, not go to work & do that for other people’s children while strangers do it for mine.
    I followed the link in her post about Myers-Briggs personalities. I have known for years that I am an INFJ, like 1% of the population, making me the most rare personality type. I still like to read up on it occasionally though. This site said INFJ’s are good at being Teachers, Psychologists, Counselors, Photographers, and Child Care/Early Childhood Development workers. Over the past decade since graduation, careers I have seriously considered are – English Teacher, Art Teacher, French Teacher, Child Psychologist, School Counselor, Art Therapist that works with autistic kids (before I knew I was autistic myself), Social Worker, Photographer/Photography Teacher, and Nanny (which you need no formal education for).
    I don’t think I could possibly be happier or better suited for doing what I am now – being a SAHM who babysits from home, and planning on keeping my child home for unschooling when they get older. Penelope often talks about how even parents who know schools are bad for children are “addicted to state-funded babysitting” and just want a place to put their kids. Because they want a career, or because they are a SAHM with school-aged children who want “a break from their kids” and “me time.” Homeschooling in various forms is getting more and more popular as even teachers recommend parents pull their kids out of school, because the system is failing & won’t be reformed any time soon. Yet, not all parents have the patience or desire or personality type to stay home with their child.
    I really think it would be great if I could network with other mothers who don’t want their kids in school, but just don’t feel up to the challenge of staying home themselves. It would be so nice to have a child or two or three – maybe from one other family – to look after during the days. Then my child could do unschooling while still being able to socialize, even though we want this baby to be an only child. That’s the goal. I do not want to be a teacher in a traditional classroom. I’d rather encourage individualism & self-guided learning. I’d rather give my child the personal freedoms they will never find in school.”


    I have given up on the idea of traditional schooling for myself through college, and given up on putting my child through traditional school. The unbeaten path can work best for some, especially those of us who are in the 1% personality wise :).

  18. Stone Age Mom
    Stone Age Mom says:

    So admittedly, I haven’t read a lot of what is on your website. It intrigues me, though I take issue with some of the conclusions. Or at least with the intensity of some of the conclusions.

    I own a business, and had owned it for several years before my child was born. I love what I do; doing away with it just because my child was born was never an option. It is a type of business where I cannot “do it all.” I have to be around during hours where my husband cannot be there for my child, either. So we currently outsource some of our childcare in the form of daycare.

    The horrors! Though I’m sure it would be quite lovely to sell it all and live a lifestyle where I could homeschool/unschool my son, it is not what I, as a selfish person who wants to carve out my own unique lifestyle. Guess what? I’m sure he will survive and hopefully thrive.

    When he is older and ready for public school, he will likely go there. Gasp! Isn’t that hypocritical? Someone who isn’t fond of the public school system to send a child there?

    In my adult life, most of the things I deal with every day are not necessarily perfect and suited to my specific wants and desires. Each day I learn to navigate through other people’s neuroses, psychological shortfalls, lack of intelligence, etc. A bit like public school. So with a strong home supportive environment, I hardly think that I am subjecting my child to something that will be completely irrelevant and damaging to his life. I somehow survived public schooling indoctrination, went to a college with an environment that is completely upside-down to what my beliefs are now, and somehow came out as a pretty happy, fulfilled human being.

    Homeschooling is great for the parents who want that to be part of their lifestyle. For me, though, it isn’t a fit. So my child will be going to the state-sponsored babysitter in a couple years.

    We may have to deal with the truancy police, though. . .

    • CJ
      CJ says:

      Gosh, this is soooo awesome! Hands down the best response yet by a daycare, public prison factory lovin parent! Rude, distasteful, hostile, and narcissism in a neat little sushi roll! Yummy!

      I know you think I am being sarcastic, just as you were throughout your post. But, I am not. I am 100% honest and genuine, because:


      You KNOW you are doing all the wrong things for your precious child. You are humble enough to ADMIT it.

      Yes, it breaks my heart for your baby, the one who will suffer your choices. Throw him/her to the wolves so that they grow to be “tough” and “strong.” gerrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

      But I truly do APPLAUD your truth.

      Unfortunate as it may be for society to raise your family for you….so please do us all a favor and stop at one. Signed, the 7 billion and counting, xoxoxo

      • SN
        SN says:

        No CJ, you are the rude, sarcastic commenter on this blog in my opinion. Not everyone agrees with you about the rightness of homeschooling, even if we read this blog. So please save your criticism for your homeschooled children, who probably aren’t getting a very accurate picture of the world, if you are their only teacher.

      • Julianna
        Julianna says:

        I think this is the “i pray for your child” response. It’s really hateful imo.

        • CJ
          CJ says:

          I do not pray. Most of my best loved friends are working mothers and they respect my choices and my reasons as well.

          I don’t, nor would I ever troll women’s career sites to attack them for their choices.

          Unschool and home school parents are not the punching bags of the working world and coming to a homeschool blog to say hateful, mean things is just that: hate.

          Again, at least this person was honest about it. Our system cannot, nor was it ever designed- to handle the magnitude of care.


          • Julianna
            Julianna says:

            “Hands down the best response yet by a daycare, public prison factory lovin parent!”

            This is pretty bad. Not peaceful anyway.

          • CJ
            CJ says:

            You really don’t get it. I really see this as the perfect summary of a working mothers hostility toward the unschool world. I have copied/pasted it as an example as such for a project. It will be used as an example along with some survey work about the conflicts and prejudices against home school families. It has all the aspects in one post.

            (channeling my beautiful, late Japanese grandmother right now) “she pooped in my garden, I will make her vegetable soup”

            It is peaceful to try to understand all hers, and others hostility.


          • Julianna
            Julianna says:

            This was the part I didnt get:

            “Hands down the best response yet by a daycare, public prison factory lovin parent!”

          • CJ
            CJ says:

            Julianna, thank you!!! Those words are quotes, k….I apologize for not putting them in quotes. That is my bad assumption. John Gatto. Those are not my words. I mean well they are my words, but I am repeating the words of a hero. I am humbled, I should not assume being on a home school blog means that people will know his words. Most unschool and home school sites have dedicated followers of his work.

            Gatto explains how institutional schools are prisons. I won’t try to relay his poetry, I am seriously and knowingly not that good!! he discusses the brainwashing of our society about looking to schools as places of learning institutions when what they really do is make us….well, not educated, but the inverse. and worse, they “dumb us down.”

            Also, I forget my own audience. I want to be respectful, but it’s hard because it is sort of like being a storm chaser. They get, excited when they find a “perfect” storm right? Even though it could mean terrible things. I got excited, because I found a really good example, all-in-one example of a bully.

            One of my thesis ideas is about how unschool/homeschoolers do all they can to protect their children from the bully pit of institutions, until they are somewhere approaching adulthood. Then, they want to be homeschool parents themselves. Get this though? The homeschool parents get bullied EVERYWHERE! Furthermore, are as little likely (as a group anyway) to defend themselves, because all we wanted was peace in the first place.

            So, without giving you all the boring research, I can tell you the % don’t lie. Most of the attacks against homeschoolers go unchallenged. We, as a group just take it. I will spend the better part of the next year on top of what I already have compliled demonstrating this exactly, I hope…

          • CJ
            CJ says:

            Oops, I forgot, my girlfriend said I should make sure to say “I sign everything kisses and hugs, if not peace or cheers, cuz if they don’t know you, they really won’t like that. They dont know you giggle!!”

            I have two kids and I stay up all night researching and writing. I don’t know what I am saying anymore. Sweet dreams.


  19. Tiayra
    Tiayra says:

    It’s always nice when people are honest. When they admit “Homeschooling would be better for my child, but I love my career more than them.”

    If you want something bad enough, you find a way. If you don’t, you find an excuse. It depends on what your priorities are. I don’t know why people choose to have a child they don’t want to make their priority. I can’t even imagine getting a dog if I had a work schedule that would prevent me from walking it.

    I think there is a big difference between those who truly believe public schools might have advantages that homeschooling doesn’t, and those who are just apathetic to their child & figure an unhappy childhood will toughen them up. It’s like the teacher that ignores bullying, letting the kids “handle it.” Only if your parents don’t care about you, no one will. That was my experience. Did it prepare me for bullying in the work force? Sure did. Prepared me to accept it.

    As for the parents that say “I enjoyed school!” well.. I enjoyed being left home alone at age 7 & living off of junk food. Doesn’t mean I’d accept it as beneficial, or want it for my child.

    • CJ
      CJ says:

      Can’t express how much strength and resolve your post gave me in the middle-of-night writing frustration. I raise my java to you this morning Tiayra!

  20. Jodie
    Jodie says:

    I think that judging other parents by your standards is narrow-minded to say the least. I am a poor, single mother who would love to homeschool her child, but doesn’t have the thousands of dollars it would take to go to court to fight my ex-husband over this. My daughter also loves going to school, and doesn’t wish to be home-schooled. Since she is a responsible, free thinking individual, I’m choosing to accept this for now. Not all public schools are horrible places, and not all teachers are rotten. I’m sorry that you all seem to have had such a rotten childhood, but don’t insult those of us who put their children’s wants and needs first in our own way.

  21. P Flooers
    P Flooers says:

    “Not all children are gifted.” Of course.

    But the whole notion of giftedness has been perverted by institutionalism such that most folks can no longer clearly see the reality of children. The common reality of most children is way smarter (we might say gifted) than most folks understand.

    A kid reading Harry Potter fluently and independently at age five might be labeled gifted in the school system. Unschoolers see this as well within the range of normal.

  22. VictoriaG
    VictoriaG says:

    The schools in my area are sub par at best, plus I enjoy spending all day with my daughter, who is still a baby right now. I would like to do home schooling, but I doubt my husband would be completely supportive, and I have to return to work soon. I would like to believe that public schools have some redeeming qualities, but I worry my daughter won’t learn enough and if she is bright she will be under served.

    I’m already planning on supplementing her education, but I’d love to actually do a combination of public and homeschooling. Not the overly bookworm focused kind, though, more play based. Perhaps expanding on what the school teaches each day, learning things her school isn’t teaching her on weekends, and then learning in the summer based on her interests and integrating learning with family vacations and out door activities.

  23. Heather
    Heather says:

    After reading this, and some of your responses, I question how you feel about college? If you feel as though college is in your children’s future, how do you plan to prepare them for such independence?

    I personally loved the opportunity to go to school to learn, as well as, the discussions that were encouraged among a room of 20 students with various opinions. I grew to respect and love various cultures and religions due to the friends I was able to associate with in school.

    School is a place to learn and grow with kids who are different from you, something that must be done within the work force, and definitely in College.

    I have witnessed home schooled kids who have had a difficult transition into college. They were too coddled and have no idea how to handle the new found freedom that college affords.

  24. Heather
    Heather says:

    Sorry, after writing the above response I realized you are indeed against higher education for the most part.

    I will have to agree with Colin and say that while I was a bit on the fence about homeschooling, your blog has successfully convinced me that public education may indeed be the better choice.

    To say an undergraduate degree is unnecessary to go to medical school is absolutely inane. My husband received his MBA from Stanford and the idea he could have gotten there without having an undergraduate degree seems a little pie in the sky.

  25. Crystal
    Crystal says:

    I’ve been doing traditional public school with my oldest two and homeschooling them and the two younger ones during the summer. It’s been fantastic. My oldest especially is very artistic and loves tackling subjects and projects that are heavily art-based. She can’t do this much in public school, but she loves it during the summer, and she does learn. It gives us a lot of structure in the summer, lets them explore their interests, learn new things, have fun. I don’t feel the pressure to make sure they get certain objectives mastered because a lot of that is addressed in school. We focus a lot on life skills, we work on things that seemed to fall through the cracks during the previous school year. We visit the library and go to the park. I definitely consider it homeschool, but as a family we call it “kid camp.” It’s wonderful. I have babies at home, and homeschooling full time (we’ve tried it), just seems to be too much for the kids more than anything! They seem to need the break from home, to leave the nest for a while. The work we do during the summer really makes them appreciate home and family, particularly during the school year when they need a comforting and helpful home base. During the school year we continue a few of the interests we explored during the summer, which has proven to be a necessary outlet for after school and weekends. Before you try to call out my “BS,” I just have to say that my kids look forward to the fun and freedom of our summers more than anything else we’ve ever done as a family.

  26. P Flooers
    P Flooers says:

    Crystal, I have no desire to “call BS” on you. I only wonder why you feel your children need schooling every week of the year? Or, if they don’t need all that schooling, why do you call being home doing fun things with your kids during the summer, school? I call that parenting and have noticed kids thrive on it. If your kids needed a break from you or your home when y’all were homeschooling, it may be that you were pushing them too hard? The biggest mistake in homeschooling is pushing kids too hard.

    • Crystal
      Crystal says:

      Call it what you will, parenting or homeschooling. I see what you were doing there, though. Clever. We do “school” things, most of it is stuff many homeschoolers do during their school year. Maybe the problem is in the definition of “homeschool.” If that’s the case, the opinions were dead before they were written. As far as whether I was pushing them or not when we tried it, I’m pretty sure it was just the stress of juggling the babies and the older kids’ school needs that proved difficult, not my desperate need to get them on top of things. I don’t think being pushy with my kids is not really a part of my personality at all. We plan to try full-time again, if the kids want to, when the babies are older.
      No doubt you know a lot on the subject of home schooling; more than me for sure, but maybe backing off on your absolutes would be wise. Having people disagree with you should be acceptable, maybe even welcome! I’m pretty sure that would make your blog more helpful to others exploring home schooling. In any case, thanks for the…food for thought.

      • P Flooers
        P Flooers says:

        Crystal, you say it might be wise for me to back off from making absolute statements. I only made one absolute statement: The biggest mistake in homeschooling is pushing kids too hard.

        Perhaps I should rephrase? The most common mistake in homeschooling is pushing the kids too hard. That’s what I meant when first using the word “biggest.” I meant biggest to indicate most common. But biggest could also be interpreted as “most harmful” and I think that is true as well. The most harmful homeschooling mistake is pushing your kids too hard. (Not to be confused with more obvious and much bigger parenting mistakes, such as frank abuse.)

        Your words indicate pushing too hard. Maybe this is true in your case, maybe you’ve simply misspoken, or perhaps I’ve misunderstood your words. Be that as it may, the biggest mistake in homeschooling is pushing the kids too hard.

        If, as you wrote, your kids needed to go to school to get a break from being at your house or with you (which one, was not clarified) its probably because you were pushing them too hard.

        If, as you wrote, you needed your kids to go to school because you were too stressed out by homeschooling them along with babies around, its probably because you were pushing them too hard.

        Note my use of the word probably. I’m interpreting the words you have written, through my filter of 15 years experience as a successful homeschooling parent. I could be wrong in my reading of your words. Be that as it may, the biggest mistake in homeschooling is pushing the kids too hard.

  27. dlv
    dlv says:

    Wow. That is so insulting I don’t even know where to being. Ever consider that parents might hate sending their kids to public school but have no choice? I prefer not to live on welfare, thanks. That’s just an exchange of the teat. I have a large family, and I run a 9-1-1 dispatch center in my county. I would love to homeschool, and I have on and off, but we cannot live on one income. I don’t supplement my children’s education during the school year out of respect for their time. They have already put in a full day, why stretch them as thin as I am? So we do enrichment activities during the summer, including literature, grammar, science, history, music, and art. If this is as much as a parent can give, why belittle them for it? Bad form folks. Don’t be so snobby.

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